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6 September 2010updated 02 Aug 2023 10:43am

AV second reading will pass tonight

But there will be trouble ahead for the coalition

By James Macintyre

There is a distinct air of indifference among MPs slowly dripping back today from their summer breaks. Indifference, that is, towards the second reading vote on the Alternative Vote referendum which takes at 10pm tonight.

One Labour MP who is planning to vote against, says that this because the subject has not been in the news. Compare it, he says, to the coverage given to the William Hague, Andy Coulson and Tony Blair stories in recent weeks.

Other Tory MPs, meanwhile, predict that around 15 of their own will rebel and vote against the reading. There will also be a few abstentions, I understand, but it would take 40 or 50 Tory rebels plus the Nationalists for the Government to be under real threat.

However, it is when the issue returns to the Commons and the Lords later in the autumn that most MPs expect a real fight. And this evening a number of Tory MPs on the right will meet to discuss their strategy. David Davis, Bernard Jenkin and Sir Peter Tapsell are helping lead the rebellion.

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