• 27 OCT 2011
• The Work and Pensions Secretary has been involved in a huge row with the Tory Chief Whip
• 'If you ever put me in this position again, that’s it,' he is believed to have said
By James Chapman | Mail Online
Iain Duncan Smith has threatened to quit the Government if David Cameron ever again tries to force him to vote against his Eurosceptic principles.
The Work and Pensions Secretary and former Conservative leader had an extraordinary stand-up row with Chief Whip Patrick McLoughlin as MPs were ordered to oppose a referendum on Britain’s future in the EU, the Daily Mail has learned.
‘Iain said, “If you ever put me in this position again, that’s it”. He was extremely unimpressed with how the whole thing had been handled, and made clear what he would do if there’s any repeat,’ said one MP who witnessed the confrontation late on Monday night.
Several Cabinet ministers are understood to share a widespread view on Tory backbenches that Mr Cameron blundered badly when he decided to turn a vote designed as a non-binding expression of the view of Parliament on Britain’s future in the EU into a trial of strength.
A rebellion gathered pace, rather than receded, after the Prime Minister announced he was rushing the vote forward so he could attend himself and imposing a three-line whip – the toughest party instruction on how to vote – as well as threatening with the sack Government members who stepped out of line.
The two most staunchly Eurosceptic members of the Cabinet, Mr Duncan Smith and Northern Ireland Secretary Owen Paterson, would have had to quit if they had joined a record 81 MPs who rebelled against Mr Cameron.