By Alex Stevenson
A group of Conservative backbenchers could leave parliament in the new year if the coalition does not back down over proposed boundary changes, according to a report.
The Observer newspaper quoted a Whitehall source claiming Iain Duncan Smith had raised the possibility of a mass walkout of parliament if ministers did not back down.
It suggested the work and pensions secretary had raised the issue with prime minister David Cameron after the recent euro-rebellion, in which 81 Tory MPs defied the PM over an EU referendum.
The forthcoming upheaval to the electoral map, which is seeing the size of the Commons cut from 650 to 600 MPs at the same time as the equalisation of constituency sizes, is thought to have contributed to the factors contributing to the EU revolt.
"Duncan Smith is leading the rearguard action on this one because he knows the instability and upset that it is causing everyone," the source told the Observer.
"There has been talk that no one in a seat will lose out and mention of the House of Lords, but that doesn't cut it with many who have left business for this job and quite frankly are thinking of going back to making some money."
Parliament will have to approve the boundary changes by the autumn of 2013 for them to have effect.
Tory party strategists have already privately conceded the vote could pose the biggest risk to the coalition enduring until the planned general election of May 2015.
Now it appears uncertainty posed by the changes is threatening further headaches for the government. Mr Duncan Smith reportedly told Mr Cameron to "kick the whole idea of boundary change into the long grass to avoid further instability".