A surprise U-turn on plans to part-privatise Cornwall Council services has been signalled as leader Alec Robertson fights to save his political life.
Days ahead of a key vote to oust the Tory leader, Mr Robertson has pledged to scrap the £800 million "shared services" scheme if councillors refuse to give it support at a later debate.
The Conservative chief admits next week's motion of no confidence now also represents a vote on the joint venture, as any successor to his role is likely to be opposed to the outsourcing deal.
The timing of the announcement has been described as an opportunistic political move to unite his party.
It will offer critics of the scheme within his ranks the chance to retain the leader, avoid political embarrassment and still sink the privatisation plans afterwards.
A Conservative source said at least ten members would vote against Mr Robertson, if councillors hold a secret ballot.
Mr Robertson claimed he has the full support of his group and called for the decision to be taken in "an open and transparent way".
Critics argue the council has already voted against the plans and say the change of heart is a "ruse" to remain in power and work to persuade councillors to back the plans.