Britain has voted no to the alternative vote (AV) in the electoral referendum, dealing the Liberal Democrats yet another crushing blow in what has been a day of defeat for Nick Clegg’s party.

In most areas, around 70% said no to AV, dashing hopes of electoral reform within this generation.

The resounding no to AV vote comes on the same day in which hundreds of Lib Dems lost their seats in the local and devolved elections.

Lib Dem councillors have lost their seats in Newcastle, Liverpool and Manchester and even Sheffield – Nick Clegg’s own city.

The party also lost support in Scotland, as voters flocked to the Scottish National party (SNP).
In total, over 600 Lib Dem councillors have been lost.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives surprised many by losing few of their seats and emerging relatively unscathed from the local elections.

Danny Alexander, the chief secretary to the Treasury, said that the Lib Dems’ attempt to introduce the alternative vote had failed, in what was the UK’s first national referendum since 1975.

“We wanted to have a referendum. We wanted to give the people the chance to vote on transforming our voting system, helping to put more power in people’s hands,” Alexander said.

“It is disappointing that people have chosen to vote the way they have. I think there is a whole number of reasons for that, but I think the most important thing is to accept with good grace the verdict of the people and say, ‘That’s that’.”

The promise of a vote on AV was a major factor in the coalition negotiations which took place following the last general election. Clegg may now find his leadership on shaky ground without the possibility of electoral reform.

The Electoral Commission said 18.6 million votes had been cast across the UK, a provisional turnout of 41.8%.

The final AV result will be formally announced by the Electoral Commission later tonight.