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Clegg out of 'Yes to AV' launch

Nick Clegg has pulled out of the launch of the Liberal Democrats' "Yes to AV" campaign launch to attend an emergency Cabinet meeting on Libya.

The Deputy Prime Minster had intended to spearhead his party's drive to change the voting system for Westminster elections with a speech in Manchester.

Lib Dems - who have long demanded electoral reform - are pinning their hopes on securing a "Yes" vote in the referendum on May 5.

The launch will go ahead without Mr Clegg.

Proportional representation for parliamentary elections instead of the current first-past-the-post system for electing MPs has been a cornerstone demand of the Liberal Democrats for decades.

But a vote on AV, which is not proportional and which Mr Clegg previously dubbed a "miserable little compromise", was the best they could secure in coalition negotiations with the Tories.

The campaign will pitch Mr Clegg into battle against Prime Minister David Cameron, who is in line with the vast majority of his MPs in opposing the change.

Labour is split on the issue, with many high-profile veteran MPs and peers leading a vocal "No" campaign at odds with leader Ed Miliband's support for the change.

Mr Miliband claimed this week that the Deputy Prime Minister's unpopularity made him a liability to the chances of victory in the May 5 vote.

Speaking earlier in the week, Mr Miliband said a high-profile role for Mr Clegg would delight the "No" campaign and that the best thing he could do was "lay low for a bit".


From Belfast Telegraph