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Mr Cameron (left) is said to have 'exploded with rage' when anti-EU rebel Mr Duncan Smith (right) rejected repeated pleas not to walk out of the Government in a bitter row over disability benefits cuts Allies of Mr Cameron said the letter shows Mr Duncan Smith used the issue as a 'fraudulent' pretext to 'flounce out' – and that he had been 'itching' to resign for months so that he can fully campaign for an 'Out' vote in the EU referendum.Mr Duncan Smith said Chancellor George Osborne's planned cuts to disability benefits were 'not defensible' in a Budget which was also benefiting higher-earning taxpayers.In his public response, Mr Cameron said that he was 'puzzled and disappointed' by the resignation.One Government source said: 'The disability benefits cut was Iain's idea and he was defending it as late as Thursday.
However an ally of Mr Duncan Smith say that he 'woke up on Friday morning resolved to resign' over the issue: although he had backed the changes in public, he had privately warned Mr Osborne that they would prove to be toxic.
Then, when the furious public backlash started, he felt increasingly exposed.
Mr Duncan Smith's Cabinet job was swiftly filled yesterday by rising star Stephen Crabb, who was promoted from Welsh Secretary.
Crabb, 43, who has been tipped as a future leader, has the perfect back story for his new job: He was raised in a in Pembrokeshire council house by a single mother who was forced into welfare dependency after splitting from Crabb's violent father – but she managed to rejoin the workforce by taking a training course.
Employment Minister Priti Patel, who answered to Mr Duncan Smith, had been tipped for promotion in the next reshuffle – but sources indicated that, as a fellow supporter of Brexit, it would have 'too dangerous' to move her to the Cabinet. Another ally of Mr Duncan Smith said: 'Every third word was an expletive.