Cabinet minister Philip Hammond launched an attack on former Eastleigh MP Chris Huhne as he canvassed voters yesterday.

The Defence Secretary said residents would be able to trust Tory candidate Maria Hutchings, who he described as a “breath of fresh air” as they spoke to residents in Hamble.

The Tory heavyweight rubbished reports that Liberal Democrat activists were flooding the town, sending jitters in the Tory party.

He instead said that the Tories have matched their resources by calling on 1,000 members in the past four days to rally support.

He said: “Frankly I think it’s nonsense. The Lib Dems love by-elections, that’s their thing, but we’re pouring resources in here.

“We have got more than enough resources and people.”

He added: “You need to listen to what people are saying on the doorstep.

“I think Chris Huhne has let the people of Eastleigh down very significantly and I think that the fact Maria is a local person, who has got no other agenda than wanting to represent the local people, it’s her strong point.”