Row between government ministers intensifies as polls show No campaign in lead

THE SPAT between heavyweight politicians over swapping Britain’s electoral system for the Alternative Vote (AV) is heating up, as the country prepares to go to the polls later this week.

Former Labour minister Lord Boateng will today label Lib Dem heavyweight Chris Huhne as a “wannabe”, after the energy secretary slammed the “No to AV” campaign at the weekend.

He said: “If Chris Huhne finds the Tories so distasteful, you have to ask why is he in government with them?”

“If he wants to undermine David Cameron he shouldn’t be tinkering with Britain’s tried and tested electoral system to do so, he should go to the office this afternoon and resign from the coalition, taking enough of his Liberal colleagues with him.”

Huhne had accused Cameron of using the referendum to trash Nick Clegg’s leadership. He said: “The Conservative party is now completely trashing us and Nick Clegg’s leadership for doing something they asked us to do in the national interest.”

The campaigns by both sides have united and split political parties, as well as celebrities. Double Olympic gold-medal winning rower James Cracknell will today join foreign secretary William Hague and shadow health Labour secretary John Healey to speak out against a change in Britain’s electoral system.

Yesterday, a YouGov poll for the Sunday Times showed the No campaign in the lead, with 55 per cent voting against AV and 45 per cent for.

Meanwhile, new figures compiled by the “No” campaign today show that local authorities will pay up to £80m to hold Thursday’s referendum.

The campaign claims the cost of the poll for the average English council will amount to nine per cent of their budget cuts, enforced under the comprehensive spending review.