How AV can be stopped even if it’s a YES

How AV can be stopped even if it’s a YES

Nick Palmer looks at the final option

A former constituent recently contacted the Electoral Commission to ask about the interaction between boundary changes and the referendum, and had this provocative reply:

“The review of boundaries and the referendum are linked as they were in the same Bill voted by Parliament. If there is a yes vote in the referendum then the legislation provides for AV to be introduced. However, under the same legislation, this cannot happen until Parliament has approved the Boundary Commission’s recommendations to alter Parliamentary boundaries. This means that AV cannot be introduced until after the new boundaries had been approved.

Parliament were responsible for passing the legislation that brought the referendum into effect, so the decision about the boundaries and the referendum being linked was not made by the Electoral Commission. If you would like to comment any further on the legislation that has been passed by Parliament, we would suggest you contact your MP.”

Now suppose that there is a Yes vote. But in some manner that many people feel doesn’t convey a convincing mandate – say turnout is lousy, or it only passes because Scotland (or Cornwall or wherever) voted massively in favour.

Given that many MPs must be feeling nervous about reselection with every constituency in the country changing its boundaries, might they then use the result as an excuse to stall the whole process?

Labour is likely to disapprove of the boundary changes anyway, and it’s not too hard to imagine say 50 Tory MPs seeking either to delay the boundary process or to stop AV because they genuinely think it didn’t get a mandate.

I can’t see this happening if there’s a decisive Yes vote. But that seems the least likely outcome, doesn’t it? Perhaps we’ll still be debating AV for years to come.

Nick Palmer was Labour MP for Broxtowe from 1997-2010. He has been posting on PB since 2004

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