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What You Need To Know About MPs' Seat Boundaries Changing

A polling station at the General Election in 2019 (Alamy)

7 min read

The Boundary Commissions, which decide the layout of Westminster parliamentary constituencies have published their final recommendations of where MPs' seat boundaries should be drawn ahead of the next general election.

The four organisations, individually responsible for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have today made public their suggestions for the geography and number of voters that should make up the 650 seats in Westminster at the next election. 

The proposals will be rubber-stamped by Parliament in the coming months. 

Here's all you need to know about what the boundary review is and what could it mean ahead of the next general election:

What is the boundary review? 

The independent Boundary Commissions periodically review the layout of parliamentary constituencies to make sure they represent changes in population. 

The last time the seats saw a significant review was ahead of the 2010 general election when the number of constituencies increased from 646 to the current 650. 

The number of parliamentary seats will remain at 650, but the distribution of seats among the four nations that make up the UK has altered with this boundary review. 

In line with legislation passed in 2020, the commissions were working to a requirement that all of the constituencies in the country must have between 69,724 and 77,062 voters on the electoral roll. 

The number of constituency seats in England is increasing by 10, from 533 at the 2019 general election to 545 for the next election. 

Wales will lose eight MPs, going from 40 to 32, while Scotland will drop from 59 to 57.  

The number of seats in Northern Ireland will remain the same at 18. 

The Local council wards have for the most part been used as the guidelines for the constituency seats. 

The Boundary Commission in England said today that their policy has “has been to identify constituencies by reference to local authority external boundaries as far as practicable.

“But it has nevertheless often proved necessary to cross these boundaries in order to form constituencies that comply with the permitted electorate range,” they added. 

Today’s recommendations have been published following two earlier consultation rounds, held since 2021. 

How will seats change?

A majority of seats will see some form of change as a result of this boundary review. In England, only 55 seats will remain unchanged from their form in the 2019 general election. 

While most seats will change in some way, some alterations are more significant than others. 

The Isle of Wight, which is currently the most populous constituency, with an electorate of more than 113,000, is due to be split into two: Isle of Wight West and Isle of Wight East. Current MP Bob Seely is due to stand in the Isle of Wight West constituency at the next election. 

In Scotland, the seats of Orkney and Shetland and Na h-Eileanan an Iar are protected, as is the Welsh seat of Ynys Môn.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s constituency of Richmond in North Yorkshire will gain the Bedale and Tanfield council wards from the neighbouring Thirsk and Malton seat. 

It will also be renamed to Richmond and Northallerton, to reflect the two large towns in the seat. 

It had previously been reported that Labour leader Keir Starmer would no longer live in his Holborn and St Pancras constituency as a result of the boundary changes, but PoliticsHome understands that this is no longer the case. 

What does it mean for MPs? 

A number of MPs whose seats have changed or been renamed have had to apply for reselection in the new seats. 

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has been selected for the new Godalming and Ash constituency, after his current South West Surrey constituency was split in two. 

Labour MP Kim Leadbeater had a similar decision to make when her Batley and Spen seat was divided between the Dewsbury and Batley and new Spen Valley seats. She has chosen to stand in Spen Valley. 

Home Secretary Suella Braverman fought to be selected in the new Fareham and Waterlooville seat in Hampshire, after the scrapping of her existing Fareham constituency. She went up against the MP for Meon Valley Flick Drummond, a seat which is also going under the new boundaries. Braverman eventually won the seat ahead of the Conservative backbencher, with a majority of 77 local party members to Drummond’s 54. 

One MP has already said that following the review they will not be standing for parliament at the next election. Conservative MP Chris Clarkson, who represents Heywood and Middleton in Greater Manchester, made his resignation announcement on Tuesday, and pointed to the redrawn boundaries in his statement. 

The current seat – which Clarkson won with a majority of 663 in 2019 –  will be replaced by two new seats: Heywood, and Manchester Blackley. In a statement, he said that being an MP has been the “honour” of his life. "Following the Boundary Review's recommendation that the current Heywood and Middleton seat be replaced by a new Heywood seat and a new Manchester Blackley seat I have decided not to seek selection for either,” he said.

How have people reacted?

Voters had opportunities to have their say on the proposals throughout the redrawing process through public consultations and public hearings. 

During the process, the Boundary Commission in England said that they had received more than 11,500 individual representations via their website, email, post and through people who attended the public hearings. 

One issue raised was the naming of constituencies. The boundary commission says that its general policy on naming has been that a constituency title should “normally reflect the main population centre(s) contained in the constituency”. 

The commission has laid out today a number of suggestions that were made regarding names following their earlier consultations. 

In Leeds, parts of shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves’ seat are joining parts of neighbouring Pudsey, currently represented by Conservative minister Stuart Andrew. 

According to the commission, the new Leeds West and Pudsey seat received the most representations to do with constituency name in the Leeds area. 

“Respondents contended that the existing name would not be representative of the newly included wards of Armley, and Bramley & Stanningley which have closer ties to the city centre.”

There were similar reports from the West Midlands, where the commission said there were a “number of responses that requested a reordering of the name of the proposed Bedworth and North Warwickshire constituency, highlighting that around two thirds of the population was located in the latter part”. 

Could these changes impact the next general election? 

While there has been speculation about seats that could change hands following the boundary review, it remains to be seen whether these changes could affect the seats gained or lost by the parties at the next general election, although it is believed that a significant political impact is highly unlikely. 

The process is considered to be apolitical. While MPs and political parties are able to submit representations regarding constituancy redrawing, the Boundary Commission for England said in their report today they "have no regard to the political advantages or disadvantages of our recommendations". 

Over the last decade, the Conservatives have won a large number of what were previously considered Labour safe seats, a pattern that may now be reversed in what is now a significantly changed political landscape. Voter intention has seen a significant shift in the last year with Labour now taking a comfortable lead in the polls, meaning there is already a strong expectation that a number of seats will change hands at the next election – but it probably won't be because of boundary changes. 


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