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Controversial 'Devon-wall' constituency 'not ruled out' in boundary shake-up
3 June 2021, 00:52
The creation of a controversial "Devon-wall" parliamentary seat has not been ruled out as part of a shake-up of the UK's electoral map.
A £2.5 million review of the country's constituency boundaries is set to be published next week in an effort to make voter populations in each constituency more equal.
The study, conducted by the Boundary Commission for England, will see England gain 10 MPs, while Wales and Scotland will lose eight and two respectively.
However, a consultation will take place before the initial recommendations are implemented.
The commission said that despite the gains for England, one seat could be created that would merge areas in Devon and Cornwall either side of the River Tamar.
Previous boundary reviews saw similar recommendations shot down by local opposition on both sides of the historic boundary in the South West.
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Tim Bowden, secretary to the English commission, told reporters on Wednesday: "You could see a constituency that straddles the River Tamar between Devon and Cornwall.
"We try the best that we can to reflect those natural and man-made features in terms of rivers, motorways, railways, etc.
"However, ultimately we have to get every constituency between the 69,000 and 77,000 figure, and if that means we have to cross a barrier such as the River Tamar, then, unfortunately, that is something the commission may have to do."
The overhaul will not affect the number of UK constituencies (650). However, population changes will mean England will see its number of MPs increase to 543, while Wales and Scotland will drop to 32 and 57 respectively.
Northern Ireland will continue to have 18 MPs in parliament but its current electoral map could be redrawn under the plans, according to the region's boundary commission.
In January, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) published the voter data on which the review will be based, with 47.5 million voters to be divided into 650 constituencies of between 69,724 and 77,062 people in size.
Some island constituencies, such as the Isle of Wight and the Isle of Anglesey, have been granted a special exemption to be outside the population remit.
Currently, UK constituencies range from 50,000 to 100,000 in size and Mr Bowden said one of the benefits of the review would include ensuring every MP represents "roughly the same number of electors in their constituency".
The final proposals are due to be submitted in July 2023 in time for the 2024 general election and the commission's work will continue regardless of a snap general election being called before then, he added.
Plans proposed by former prime minister David Cameron's government to cut the number of MPs by 50 while also making constituency populations more equal were ditched by Boris Johnson's administration last year.
A review in 2013 went unfinished, while proposals in 2018 were laid aside.