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19 April 2011

The Tory plan to sabotage a Yes vote

Conservative MPs could block AV by delaying the coalition’s boundary changes.

By George Eaton

The polls may be pointing to a victory for No to AV, but Tory MPs are already working out how they would sabotage a Yes vote. One option under discussion is to delay the coalition’s boundary changes.

As I’ve pointed out before, the 2015 general election will be held under AV only if the redrawn boundaries have been implemented.

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Alternatively, the Tories could block reform by forcing an early election. The boundary review isn’t due to conclude until 2013, which means that any election before this date will be fought under first-past-the-post.

Julian Lewis, the former Tory frontbencher, tells the Times (£): “I would be prepared to consider any legitimate means available to find a way of either reversing or circumventing the outcome.” If AV is passed on a low turnout, with Scotland winning the day, many will be prepared to join him.

At the No to AV event yesterday, David Cameron insisted that he would not allow FPTP diehards to override a Yes vote in this way. But if the referendum is lost, Cameron’s stock will be low and he may struggle to contain a rebellion. The many Labour MPs opposed to FPTP would be prepared to unite with the Tory rebels to block the introduction of AV.

For the Yes camp, the battle may have just begun.