DUP may hold key to crucial Commons vote

Tue, Jan 29, 2013, 00:00

The Democratic Unionist Party could play a key role in deciding a crucial House of Commons vote tonight on plans to cut the number of MPs by 50 and to redraw constituency boundaries, and which threatens major divisions between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

Last night, DUP MPs maintained silence in the face of unconfirmed rumours around the Commons that the Conservatives – who desperately want to get the changes through – have made a series of concessions to them.

However, it is understood that the eight DUP MPs have yet to meet to discuss their voting stand, leaving open the possibility that Labour whips are using the threat of a Conservative/DUP alliance as a means of keeping discipline in their own ranks.

The DUP’s final decision to vote for, against or to abstain could be crucial. The Conservatives, with 303 seats and the DUPs with eight, could reach 311, with a full turnout; compared to 312 from Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

A three-line whip has been imposed by the Conservatives.