Supporters of Peter Dutton say the Home Affairs Minister is leaning towards challenging Malcolm Turnbull for the prime ministership and has the numbers to win, amid a crisis over energy policy and a horror new poll showing support for the Coalition has slumped.
Conservative Party leader Cory Bernardi says whoever is leading the country, we need Conservative Senators in the Senate to keep them in check.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports, Mr Dutton has spent the weekend taking soundings among Liberal MPs, leaving close colleagues with the clear view that he believes the government is now in an unwinnable position.
All indications are that Mr Dutton is ready to run for the leadership, they said, in another sign of a Coalition meltdown with conflicting claims over support for rival camps ahead of a policy showdown in the Coalition party room on Tuesday.
An exclusive Fairfax-Ipsos poll shows the Coalition has suffered a horror slump in its primary vote from 39 to 33 per cent over the past month amid open disputes on energy and speculation over the leadership.
In its worst result since early last year, the Coalition now trails Labor by 45 to 55 per cent in two-party terms in a result that would cost the government more than 20 seats at a general election.
The fact that Mr Dutton took 24 hours on Friday and Saturday to respond to leadership speculation led MPs to predict he would move at some point if Mr Turnbull could not manage the discontent in the party room.
Senator Bernardi has told Sky News Mr Turnbull's leadership is looking very shaky.
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