8 May 2011

British voters want to keep first-past-the-post system

8:02 am on 8 May 2011

The UK has voted overwhelmingly to reject changing the way Westminster MPs are elected.

Officials say 19.1 million people voted in the second UK-wide referendum in history - a higher than expected turnout of 41%. It was held on the same day as elections for the Scottish Parliament, the Northern Irish and Welsh assemblies and local councils in England.

The final result put the Yes vote at 32.1% and the No vote at 67.9%.

The BBC reports the 'no' vote is a further blow to Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg, whose party lost many local council seats in England to Labour in Friday's local elections.

Mr Clegg said: "I wish I could say this was a photo finish but it isn't, the result is very clear. I'm a passionate supporter of political reform but when the answer is as clear as this, you have got to accept it.

"This is a bitter blow for all those people, like me, who believe in the need for political reform."

In contrast to the fortunes of their smaller coalition partners, the Conservative party made gains in some parts of England.

Mr Clegg said the Lib Dems were facing "the brunt of the blame" for coalition spending cuts, adding that, for some voters, they were bringing out "memories of things under Thatcher".