David Cameron is under pressure from Tory backbenchers to defy his Liberal Democrat coalition partners and press ahead with the abolition of the controversial Human Rights Act.
The Prime Minister insisted there would be no "lurch to the right" in the wake of the Tories' drubbing in the Eastleigh by-election, which saw the party beaten into third place behind the UK Independence Party.
But after Justice Secretary Chris Grayling suggested the next Conservative general election manifesto would include a pledge to repeal the Human Rights Act, Mr Cameron faced calls from Tory MPs to take action immediately.
Backbencher Mark Field said if ministers failed to act, having raised the issue in public, they would simply fuel the disillusionment of voters who turned away from the party in Eastleigh.
"Either do something now and call the Liberal Democrats' bluff on this, or stay quiet. Because it's that sort of cynicism - it's just politicians saying words and not doing anything," he told Sky News's Murnaghan programme.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage dismissed the talk of repeal as "jam tomorrow", saying voters no longer believed promises made by the Conservatives. "Their own supporters look at a Conservative Party that used to talk about wealth creation, low tax and enterprise and it now talks about gay marriage and wind farms," he told BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show . "When these promises are made no one believes them any more."
Any move to scrap the Human Rights Act - which enshrines the European Convention on Human Rights in British law - would be fiercely resisted by the Lib Dems, and would open up a huge rift in the coalition.
Many Tories however remain determined to free Britain from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights following a series of controversial rulings blocking the deportation of the radical cleric Abu Qatada and insisting on votes for prisoners.
In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Mr Grayling gave the strongest signal yet that the Conservatives would act if they were returned with an outright majority after the next election in 2015. "I cannot conceive of a situation where we could put forward a serious reform without scrapping Labour's Human Rights Act and starting again," he said.
"We cannot go on with a situation where people who are a threat to our national security, or who come to Britain and commit serious crimes, are able to cite their human rights when they are clearly wholly unconcerned for the human rights of others. We need a dramatically curtailed role for the European Court of Human Rights in the UK."