Nick Clegg and David Cameron still can’t agree over the future of the boundary review, and their continuing stalemate led to legislation on individual voter registration being shelved indefinitely in the House of Lords. An amendment to the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill tabled by Labour’s Lord Hart and backed by Lib Dem Lord Rennard would have delayed the changes until 2018 – in line with Nick Clegg’s pledge of revenge this summer that the review be delayed until after the 2015 election.
The problem is that Cameron didn’t know about the amendment until his staff read about it on Paul Waugh’s blog, and he apparently lost his rag with Clegg as a result. The two men continue to disagree over the boundary review, with Cameron wanting to push it right to a vote, and Clegg agreeing with Labour that now the Lib Dems have decided to scupper the changes to constituencies, the Boundary Commission should stop its work. The Tories continue to suspect that something will turn up to catch Nick Clegg’s eye and push the changes through; the Lib Dems call this attitude ‘delusional’. Lead of the House Lord Strathclyde told peers this afternoon:
‘All those involved need further time to reflect before this House is invited to take a decision either on the admissibility of the amendment or on its merits. It will not surprise the House that those involved include senior members of the Government and that until their discussions are concluded the Electoral Registration and Administration Bill will not proceed further in committee.’
But tonight the Lib Dems are saying that when the Bill does come back to committee, they will be voting for the amendment ‘whenever it comes before the House’. It will be interesting to see who blinks first in this staring contest between the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister.