The SNP, DUP and Plaid Cymru could all be ‘bought off’ by an increasingly desperate David Cameron in his attempt to force through boundary changes that would benefit the Tories – despite all three parties having opposed the plans.
Today’s Guardian reports the Conservatives are “in talks” with the DUP, and are “also looking to win the support of one of the nationalist parties”, “trawling for support” among the eight DUP, three Plaid and six SNP MPs.
In January, the DUP accused the Boundary Commission of “gerrymandering”, describing the proposals as “brutal”, adding:
“Overall the commission’s proposals have a disproportionately negative impact upon unionism. The effect permeates the proposals, leading to the conclusion that it is no accident.”
Tory MPs believe a deal on cheap air passenger duty for long-haul flights from Belfast is the kind of offer that may get DUP MPs on side.
Plaid’s Jonathan Edwards MP, meanwhile, had said:
“Plaid Cymru fought strongly against the 25% cut in Welsh representation at Wales which was forced through by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrat coalition.
“We disagreed with the cut in the number of MPs at Westminster from 650 to 600 and the way of doing this – ignoring community links or history as the most important criterion for a seat and replacing them with a population criterion which will mean constant change in boundaries to keep the numbers right.”
However, that same Jonathan Edwards last month called on Downing Street “to put a deal on the table” for Plaid to back the boundary changes, saying “the door was open” if there was “a major, major” transfer of powers to Cardiff.
The SNP also opposed the plans, saying they would “not support the UK government”, calling the boundary review “dead”. They too, however, appear amenable to changing their minds on the issue, if the offer is right, reportedly considering an “unlikely alliance” with the Tories to push through boundary changes.
The DUP, SNP and Plaid Cymru all appear biddable – happy to throw principle out the window in exchange for a few crumbs from David Cameron, who, while slashing spending all over the place, can suddenly find money to buy his way to rigging the boundaries.