MPs return amid uncertainty over their futures in 2012

A belated happy new year to you. MPs return today from their Christmas break (don't worry, it's only five weeks until half term) and I am also back at Westminster.

Today is the day Welsh MPs discover their fate, or at least that of their constituencies, as the proposed boundary changes needed to cut their number from 40 to 30 are revealed to them.

The changes will be made public tomorrow, or sooner if they leak, and a major political row is guaranteed.

More on that story later, as they say, but today we can expect a lot of attention to be paid to the career prospects of the secretary of state for Wales, whose constituents will host part of the new high-speed rail link known as HS2.

Mrs Gillan has previously suggested she would resign rather than vote for the original route, although she isn't expected to walk the ministerial plank today. She has welcomed plans for more than a mile of "green tunnelling" in her constituency, although that may not be enough to pacify local opponents.

An environmental assessment, possible legal challenges and parliamentary hurdles lie in wait before the political crunch time. I'm advised not to expect dramatic resignations before legislation arrives at Westminster but you can get a flavour of local opposition to the route in a report I did last summer.

One of the unusual features of David Cameron's government is his decision not to hold annual reshuffles, but by the time MPs get to vote on HS2 there may be a different Welsh secretary or the post might not exist.

Listeners to the Christmas Eve edition of The Week In Westminster will have heard political commentator Peter Oborne suggest Mrs Gillan might not survive the prime minister's first reshuffle.

"There is a Cabinet Minister called Cheryl Gillan," said Oborne. "Nobody listening will have heard of her and that's a problem and I think she is for the exit."

Presenter George Parker pointed out that she was secretary of state for Wales.

Oborne: "She is indeed, but nobody listening would know that, not even if they were Welsh."

Ouch.