One of Gordon Brown's closest ministerial allies suffered a defeat today in the battle to prevent his constituency being scrapped.
The economic secretary, Ed Balls, and three other local Labour MPs, have vowed to continue their fight in parliament after failing to overturn a decision by the boundary commission to do away with his West Yorkshire seat of Normanton.
An inquiry last year by the commission's assistant commissioner, Frances Patterson, recommended that the constituency should be retained as one of four seats in the Wakefield district.
But the commission announced in January that it had not accepted her findings and intended to go ahead with the proposal to cut the district to three seats.
The MPs jointly applied jointly to the high court last month for a judicial review of the change.
But a statement released today on the behalf of the MPs - Jon Trickett (Hemsworth), Yvette Cooper (Pontefract & Castleford), Mary Creagh (Wakefield) and Mr Balls - revealed that the bid had been rejected.
Mr Balls, a rising star within the New Labour government who was only elected last year, will now be forced to find another constituency seat to contest ahead of the next general election.
Today's statement said: "This is very disappointing news for thousands of people in the district of Wakefield who strongly opposed seeing their representation in parliament reduced from four MPs to three.
"It is very unfortunate that this matter will not now be heard in the courts. We had strong legal advice that the boundary commission was both wrong in the substance of its decision and flawed procedurally."
The four MPs claim that the body broke its own rules by not following Ms Patterson's recommendation.
However, they said the high court had ruled that the commission "is not bound... by the precise provisions of the rules".
"This is a matter of serious concern. It cannot be right that the boundary commission is unable to be held to account, since there is strong case that it failed properly to apply its own rules, came to an inappropriate conclusion and needs to assure local people that they have been treated fairly.
The statement went on: "If the commission is to retain public support, its arguments and procedures need to be robust and capable of public scrutiny. We intend to ensure that this is raised in parliament at the earliest opportunity."
Mr Balls is married to Ms Cooper.