Coalition in crisis as Clegg rejects reforms

NICK Clegg yesterday dealt a serious blow to government unity by announcing that the Lib Dems will not vote in favour of reforms to parliamentary constituencies after Conservative backbenchers killed plans to reform the House of Lords.

Visibly unhappy, Clegg said his coalition partners had broken “part of our contract” and were playing “pick and choose” politics. As a result he could not support plans to create even-sized electorates.

Redrawing seat boundaries would make it substantially easier for the Conservatives to win a majority at the next election and the party will attempt to push ahead with the reforms. But the row poses the most serious threat yet to coalition unity.

Last night Conservative MP Douglas Carswell told City A.M. the government urgently needed a new sense of direction: “We’ve got until the beginning of September to come up with a coalition agreement Mk.II or it’ll be like the last years of John Major all over again.”