Labour move to derail boundary changes passes second reading
A Labour move to derail the Government’s boundary changes has passed a key stage in the House of Commons.
MPs voted 253 to 37 on the second reading of Labour MP Pat Glass’ private member’s bill, which aims to reverse the Conservatives cuts to the number of MPs.
While the vast majority of Tory MPs were away doing constituency work, Labour 's whips ensured that their side was well-represented, with a number of SNP MPs also supporting the bill.
Under the Government's proposed changes, which are being organised by the independent Boundary Commission, the number of MPs will fall from 650 to 600.
The size of individual constituencies will also be regularised so the number of electors in each seat is within 5% of 74,769.
Ms Glass' bill calls for the Commission to use the updated electoral register, which includes an extra 2m voters who signed up ahead of the EU referendum in June.
She is also asking for officials to get more room for manoeuvre, with the total number of electors within 10%, rather than 5%, of the target figure.
However the Tories should easily be able to scupper the opposition's gambit with a fresh parliamentary vote, provided they prevent a backbench rebellion on their own side.
Ms Glass insisted that the move was not out of self interest as she is stepping down from her North West Durham seat at the next election.
"My motivation is not personal, I am moving this Bill because I want what is best for our democracy," she told MPs.
But Constitution Minister Chris Skidmore claimed Labour were only trying to scupper the changes because MPs are worried about being deselected by pro-Corbyn Momentum activists.
"Labour MPs are opposing boundary reforms as they are paranoid that the hard-left Labour leadership and Momentum will use the process to bully and deselect them," he said.
"But such Labour infighting is not a reason to hold back an already-delayed review by an independent and impartial body."