Ministers have been openly jockeying for the position of embattled Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott, especially now that Sir Philip Mawer has come out with a potentially more damaging report on him.
Prescott was the subject of a full parliamentary investigation following the revelation that he stayed at the ranch of a super casino bidder. He was likewise given gifts during his stay, further agitating the sensitive enough situation.
Prescott has been accused of breaking ministerial rules and conflict of interest for accepting hospitality and favors from someone who had vested interest in official matters. Philip Anschutz is bidding to turn the Millennium Dome in London into a super casino.
Since the controversies started piling up on Prescott one after the other, he has been under intense pressure to quit.
Three ministers have now joined the race to Prescott's seat and their backers have started soliciting support. Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Hain, Constitutional Affairs Minister Harriet Harman and Education Secretary Alan Johnson have reportedly started plotting to replace Prescott.
The three's allies have begun the process of canvassing support among MPs before they set out for their 75-day vacation break on Tuesday. A Cabinet source said: "The battle has started to take over from Prezza. It's increasingly clear that his days are numbered."