David Cameron has held crisis talks at Downing Street after being told of allegations of a sensational love affair which has potentially significant political implications for him.
For legal reasons, The Mail on Sunday cannot disclose the identities of the people involved or any details of the relationship – even its duration – other than that they are middle-aged figures. The affair has now concluded.
But this newspaper can report that when aides told Mr Cameron the identities of the alleged lovers he was ‘stunned’, and, according to sources, ‘immediately realised the importance of the story’.
The Prime Minister and his aides also discussed the possible fallout should details of the affair become public – and how such disclosure could ‘blow out of the water’ any major political set pieces planned by No 10.
One senior source told this newspaper last night: ‘This revelation is dynamite. None of us could believe it when we first heard it. Then we just thought, “What a complete mess”.’
The source added that, apart from the political implications, the revelation had caused ‘great personal distress to innocent parties’.
It is understood that the Prime Minister was told of the relationship – which does not involve anyone serving in the Cabinet – within the past few weeks.
If details of the affair do emerge, it could place a further strain on Mr Cameron’s leadership, which is already being tested by backbench revolts over issues such as Europe and gay marriage and rumours of plots being hatched to overthrow him.
On Friday, he faced a further blow when one of his MPs, Patrick Mercer, resigned the party whip after being caught in a cash-for-questions ‘sting’ operation.
If the affair is revealed, it is likely to cause as much public surprise as the disclosure of the relationship between John Major and Edwina Currie, which was kept secret for nearly two decades until 2002.
When asked about the affair last night, a Downing Street source said: ‘This is not something we can talk about.’