Coalition plans 'Devonwall' MP in boundary shake-up
David Cameron has vowed to press ahead with reform to create a "Devonwall" MP as he and Nick Clegg unveiled the coalition Government's priorities for the next two-and-a-half years.
Launching a Mid-Term Review setting out the coalition's achievements so far and its plans for the remainder of this Parliament, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat leaders placed slashing the Government's deficit at the heart of their alliance.
But the pair, making a rare joint appearance in Downing Street, also pledged action on cutting childcare costs, increasing the state pension and investing in new roads, rail links and affordable homes.
The joint press conference, though, underlined areas where the two parties disagree, notably proposals to axe 50 MPs and make Commons constituencies the same size – a move that would create the role of an MP straddling the historic border between Devon and Cornwall.
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The Mid-Term Review pledges a "vote in the House of Commons on the Boundary Commission's proposals for changes to constituencies" – despite Mr Clegg saying Lib Dem MPs will vote against the proposal in revenge for the Tories blocking House of Lords reform.
"A vote will take place," Mr Cameron insisted when asked. Mr Clegg said things would "come to a head".
While looking to prevent the break-up of the coalition, Mr Cameron sought to play down the idea that it was a "marriage" – describing the relationship as "Ronseal" power-sharing.
The Prime Minister said: "We are married, not to each other. We are both happily married, and you know this is a government not a relationship. To me it's not a marriage, it is, if you like, a Ronseal deal – it does what it says on the tin. We said we would come together, we said we would form a government, we said we would tackle these problems, we said we would get on with it in a mature and sensible way, and that is exactly what we've done."
Mr Clegg joked: "Ronseal deal ... you could call it the unvarnished truth."
Two-and-a-half years on from the famous press conference in the Rose Garden of 10 Downing Street, the 52-page review includes welfare reforms, tougher school standards, council tax freezes, protecting the NHS from spending cuts and help with energy bills, fuel duty cuts and increases in the personal income tax allowance among the Government's achievements.
Mr Cameron promised the coalition would continue to go "full steam ahead" in reforming the economy and tackling the deficit.
Mr Clegg added that the "big purpose" of the coalition remained the building of "a stronger economy in a fairer society".
Few details were published alongside yesterday's ideas, with policies expected to be fleshed out in the weeks ahead.
Labour leader Ed Miliband said: "All the promises they made to us about what they would achieve about economic growth haven't come true."