Coalition urged to agree poll pact
David Cameron and Nick Clegg are facing calls to bind their two parties together in a formal electoral pact.
Tory backbencher Nick Boles warned that unless a deal was agreed, the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition could crack under the pressure as it pushed through unpopular spending cuts.
Lib Dem deputy leader Simon Hughes has previously ruled out any new pact with the Conservatives, insisting that the party would "take on all-comers" at the next general election, due in 2015.
However, Mr Boles, a leading Tory moderniser and a close ally of Mr Cameron, said it made sense for the two parties to fight the election together as they would be defending the same record in government.
"The Government is going to come under enormous pressure over the next few months and years. There are lots of MPs in marginal seats who are going to be facing pretty grim prospects," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
"I think that it is really important that we agree this pact before the cuts start coming home, because if we wait until then it will probably be too late. I am worried that the pressure that the coalition will come under could actually drive it apart.
"An electoral pact would make an enormous difference in making sure that every backbench MP, however small their majority, whether Lib Dem or Tory, has an interest in sticking with the coalition until the election in 2015."
Mr Boles said he believed the Conservatives should agree not to put up candidates in Lib Dem-held constituencies, while the Lib Dems should not field candidates in Tory-held seats.
"The Labour Party would find it very, very difficult then to beat the combined forces of Tories and Lib Dems in all of their seats," he said.