Campaigners hoping to block plans for a high-speed rail line between London and Birmingham are threatening to stand at the next election if the Government presses ahead with the scheme.
The aim would be to provide an alternative to candidates from the three major parties, which all back the planned £17 billion line.
In practice, sitting Conservative MPs – many of them in marginal seats – are most likely to be affected. If the anti-HS2 campaign is effective, they could see their vote drop significantly.
The line will pass through Tory-held constituencies including Kenilworth and Southam, Lichfield, Meriden, North Warwickshire and Tamworth.
Anti-HS2 candidates could also stand in Labour-held Birmingham seats which will be affected, including Hodge Hill, Ladywood and Erdington. However, opposition to the proposed 225mph service has been strongest in rural areas.
Many constituencies are set to change significantly because of a boundary review, but this is still likely to leave the Conservatives defending a number of marginal rural seats.
The electoral slate will be organised by the national Stop HS2 campaign, which said it would act if Transport Secretary Philip Hammond gives the line the go-ahead in December.
Stop HS2 campaign co-ordinator Joe Rukin said: “We hope our plans will prompt debate within all the main political parties.
“However, if the Government confirms the plans for HS2 in December, the one certainty will be the total uproar in the previously-loyal Conservative seats that are impacted by the line. There is palpable fury that the Government seems to want to press ahead with this scheme despite all the independent voices that question its economic and environmental viability.”
Mr Rukin added: “Should the Government push on with the scheme, many people who had previously been prepared to give their party the benefit of the doubt on this issue, will say enough is enough. Voters of all political persuasions will conclude that the only way to get their message through, to both the existing and future Governments, will be through democratic representation at the ballot box on this one unifying issue of principle.”
MP Dan Byles (Con North Warwickshire and Bedworth), one of the MPs who might be targeted and a firm opponent of the high-speed plans, said: “It is an interesting development and it might smoke out some of the MPs who have yet come out one way or another on the issue.”
Opponents of high-speed rail have suffered a miserable conference season as all three major parties confirmed they were backing the scheme.
Labour’s shadow Transport Secretary Maria Eagle said the proposed 225mph service into Birmingham was “the only credible way” of tackling overcrowding on the rail network, while Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said the line was “essential”.
But senior business figure Lord Jones of Birmingham, the former head of the CBI, came out against the proposal at the Conservative conference.
Asked at a fringe event whether he thought HS2 would create wealth from the city of Birmingham, Lord Jones said: “Anyone in Birmingham that says HS2 will do anything other than make Birmingham a dormitory town for London needs to get real.”