UK Government plans to reduce number of Scottish MPs condemned by opposition parties

Boundary review proposals would reduce the number of Scottish MPs from 59 to 53

UK GOVERNMENT PLANS to reduce the number of Scottish MPs have faced immediate and vociferous opposition from the SNP and the Liberal Democrats.

The Boundary Commission for Scotland today published its proposals for Westminster constituencies, which if applied would see Scotland lose six of its MPs, going from 59 to 53.

Applied across the UK, the proposals – which are open to public consultation until 11 December – would see Westminster constituencies reduced from 650 to 600.

“There is no majority in the House of Commons for reducing the size of the chamber.” SNP MP Tommy Sheppard

Responding to the proposals, SNP MP for Edinburgh East Tommy Sheppard said in a statement: “The Tories have ordered the Boundary Commission to cut the number of Scottish MPs by ten per cent – a completely unacceptable suggestion that would weaken Scotland’s ability to hold the UK government to account, and defend our national interests.

“There is no majority in the House of Commons for reducing the size of the chamber yet the Tory government continues to task the Commission to look at reducing seats – what a waste of taxpayers’ money.

“If we really want to reduce the cost of politics, the first priority must be abolishing the unelected, undemocratic House of Lords.” SNP MP Tommy Sheppard

“If we really want to reduce the cost of politics, the first priority must be abolishing the unelected, undemocratic House of Lords, which has zero accountability to voters despite having a ludicrously bloated chamber of over 800 taxpayer-funded peers.

“This is entirely the wrong time to be pursuing a reduction in our democratically elected representation. Now more than ever we need full scrutiny as the UK Government tries to push through a hard Tory Brexit.”

“The DUP will not wear this review. Nor will many Tory backbenchers." Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael

Liberal Democrats have also voiced opposition to the proposals, with chief whip and MP for Orkney and Shetland Alistair Carmichael commenting: “The DUP will not wear this review. Nor will many Tory backbenchers. The government should stop wasting public funds and bow to the inevitable.
 
“But if by some miracle it does go through, the Liberal Democrats will fight and win seats on these boundaries, in considerably stronger numbers than we managed last time.
 
“We will be making representations in the final eight week consultation for retaining strong community ties just as we have done at every stage of the review.”

Labour has also indicated that it is opposed to the Boundary Commission’s UK-wide recommendations. Under the new constituency map, Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington constituency would be dissolved, potentially placing him in competition with cabinet colleagues Emily Thornberry and Diane Abbott.

“Where the legislation has allowed it, we have tried to respond to the views expressed to us.” Boundary Commission for Scotland deputy chair Lord Matthews

Lord Matthews, deputy chair of the Boundary Commission for Scotland, said of the proposals: "After careful consideration of all of the comments received during the consultations on the Initial Proposals, the Commission has designed this revised set of constituencies.

“Where the legislation has allowed it, we have tried to respond to the views expressed to us. However, in some areas, we have been unable to make changes because of the constraints on constituency design within which we work.

"This is the final opportunity we have to obtain views on our proposals so we can further improve them where the legislation allows us to do so. I hope people will take the opportunity to contribute, whether for or against what we have proposed.”

Recent research conducted for Sky News, the BBC, ITV News and the Press Association has indicated that, had the 2017 General Election been fought on the constituency boundaries now proposed, Prime Minister Theresa May would have retained a majority of 16, or 25 if Sinn Fein continued their policy of not taking up their seats in Westminster.

Picture courtesy of Long Road Photography

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