Arise the rebels.

tbg. can today confirm that ex-colonel Patrick Mercer is the first name to publicly call for a confidence vote in tory leader David Cameron.

The Newark and Retford MP is said to have written to party bosses recently.

Rumours suggest that up to 14 others have followed suit but as yet have not gone public.

A total of 46 MPs are needed to trigger a tory leadership contest.

It comes as tbg. revealed at the weekend how Boris Johnson is now Britain's most popular politician and is to appear at no fewer than two events at the party conference next month.

There were signs that David Cameron might be worried about Boris' increasing profile over the weekend when both John Major and Philip Davies had to come to the PM's defence admidst growing unease among tory backbenchers.