By Paul Goodman
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suggest that Downing Street may seek to push the proposed boundary
reforms through the Commons in alliance with Democratic Unionist MPs,
Plaid Cyrmu MPs and even the SNP.
Let's leave aside for a moment the obstacles to the boundary changes
winning the assent of the Lords (though the Commons can presumably have
the final say if if it is determined to).
Let's also leave aside the problem of whether Conservative offers to
the nationalist parties – such as a new Government of Wales Act – would
win the support of the Liberal Democrats.
Instead, let's put the Commons numbers under a magnifying glass, and begin by assuming, sadly, that Labour will win the coming Corby by-election and keep the other seats it won in 2010.
First, add Ed Miliband's MPs, plus Corby, to the Liberal Democrats,
the SDLP, the single Alliance MP, the Green, Sylvia Hermon and George
Galloway. Then take away two Deputy Speakers.
I make that 320 MPs.
Then add the Conservatives to Plaid, the Scot Nats and the DUP, and then take the two Deputy Speakers away.
I make that 321 MPs.
I am not counting the five Sinn Fein MPs or the Speaker. One might
of course challenge these assumptions – the SDLP, say, could somehow be
induced to vote with the Tories. Who knows?
And then there is the
question of who would turn up on the night. But the main problem for
the Conservative whips, I think, is the Tory MPs who lose out from the
It is impossible at this stage to cite a definitive figure, but one account has put the Conservative loss UK-wide at about 15 seats.
think it's unlikely that all will vote for their own demise – whatever
the Whips promise. The biggest obstacle to the boundaries going through could turn out to be Tory MPs themselves.