Jenkin warns on AV vote

Date must be different to Scottish and Welsh elections

THE Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition could be in danger is plans to hold a referendum on changing the voting system is held on the same day as next year’s Scottish and Welsh elections.

Harwich & Essex North Tory MP Bernard Jenkin, who opposes the coalition agreement to introduce the alternative vote for future general elections, predicted most Conservative MPs to vote for the referendum as it was part of the coalition agreement, although he insisted that it should not be on May 5.

“I am astonished to hear that they are thinking of putting this referendum on the same date as the elections in the Scottish and Welsh parliament, because that’s going to lead to differential turnouts in the referendum in different parts of the country,’’ he said.

“In Scotland and Wales they will be thinking about who runs Scotland, who runs Wales, they won’t be focusing on the main question of the referendum.

“It’s clearly an attempt to stoke the turnout in areas of the country which already have different voting systems which is why I presume there will be less resistance to change to the UK system.’’

Downing Street has refused to confirm reports that Mr Clegg was planning to hold the referendum on May 5 next year - the same day as elections for the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh Assembly - ahead of an official announcement next week.

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It is expected that the referendum plan will be signed off by the Cabinet when it meets on Tuesday.

Downing Street confirmed that when the referendum was held, Prime Minister David Cameron would be campaigning for a “no’’ vote.