DAVID CAMERON’S hopes of a Conservative majority in 2015 suffered a massive blow when a planned cull of 50 MPs – including two Merseyside seats – was dramatically killed off.
The Liberal Democrats announced they would vote against a redrawing of Britain’s electoral map, one that was expected to hand the Tories up to 20 extra seats at the next general election.
The move – in revenge for Conservative backbenchers blocking House of Lords reform – plunges the Coalition into a fresh crisis after ministers insisted the existing boundaries handed Labour an unfair advantage.
Without the shake- up, the Conservatives will need to win by up to 11 points in 2015, in order to win a Commons majority. The party is currently nine points behind Labour.
In Merseyside, the scrapping of 50 constituencies would have pitched Maria Eagle (Garston and Halewood) and Luciana Berger (Wavertree) into a head-to-head battle for a single Liverpool seat.
One seat was also due to disappear in Wirral, where the electorates are small, as was Chancellor George Osborne’s Tatton constituency, in Cheshire.
Last night, Alison McGovern – the Wirral South MP, whose constituency was to be split between three new seats of Mersey Banks, Hoylake and Neston and a reworked Birkenhead – welcomed the U-turn.
The Labour MP had protested that the Mersey Banks seat, taking in Bromborough and Eastham, but stretching across the River Mersey and deep into Cheshire, would “take 90 minutes to drive through”.