The government this week dented industry hopes it is on the verge of ditching plans for minimum pricing of alcohol, after listing the proposals as a key policy achievement of the coalition.

“We have published a cross-government alcohol strategy and launched a consultation on the merits of key policies, including a 45p minimum unit price for alcohol and a range of measures to reduce burdens on business,” said the mid-term review.

The statement comes despite ongoing press speculation that a Cabinet revolt could force the Prime Minister into an embarrassing u-turn.

The battle is set to intensify next week when the Scotch Whisky Association resumes its legal challenge against the introduction of a 50p minimum price north of the border.

Court proceedings were delayed following a request by the Scottish government for more time to prepare its case.

Opponents claimed that plans for a 50p unit price in Scotland and a 45p price in England were in breach of European trade laws.

“It is time for David Cameron to drop this unfair and ineffective policy,” said WSTA chief executive Miles Beale.