MEMBER for New England Barnaby Joyce has warned the Nationals may walk away from the Coalition in the wake of an upcoming spill next Tuesday.
News of the spill broke this afternoon when Western Australian Liberal MP Luke Simpkins confirmed he will seek a leadership spill against Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
"What I say to my colleagues in the Liberal party is this: we didn't want this. We gave you fair warning," Mr Joyce told the Leader.
"Do not consider that the National party support is without question."
"If all of a sudden a different person is walking down the aisle towards us, don't necessarily think the wedding is still on."
Mr Joyce called for the Liberal party to restore stability and said the leadership sideshow was distracting from important issues in regional areas.
"We do not condone chaos - that's what the Australian people voted against at the last election."
"This airing of public laundry is more of a sordid soap. It's intriguing and exciting but it is not endearing."
"I'm extremely disappointed that this process is now afoot."
"The Australian people deserve respect by having people act in a diligent and dignified way."
"We will be thinking of our constituents in regional areas and the nation."
The announcement of the spill follows rampant speculation about a leadership challenge that escalated after the Prime Minister knighted Prince Philip as part of the Australia Day honours.
When questioned whether Mr Joyce was still willing to bet his Tamworth house on Mr Abbott leading the Coalition to the next election, Mr Joyce demurred and said his initial bet was the public would not be speaking about Prince Philip at the next election, and it was 7.30's Leigh Sales who had upped the stakes.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.