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No to Devonwall!
In this week's Cornish Guardian, my article looked at the continued threat of a Devonwall seat and the launch of the latest “Boundary Commission for England” consultation. The article includes material already published on this blog, but the article is here for the sake of completeness.
Even though there have been reports that the UK Government intends to scrap the ongoing parliamentary review, which would lead to a cross-Tamar Devonwall parliamentary constituency, the “Boundary Commission for England” (BCE) is continuing its work.

Last week, the BCE published revised proposals for new constituency boundaries which still include a Devonwall seat.

This was not a surprise, as the BCE has been working within the rules set down by Westminster that state seats must have electorates of “between 71,031 and 78,507 – that is, 5% either side of the electoral quota of 74,769.”

Indeed, the BCE has reported back: “We noted that the electorate of Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly was 393,874 and that if we were to allocate five constituencies, the average electorate of those five constituencies would be 78,775, which is more than 5% above the electoral quota … [this] meant that we had no option but to recommend a constituency that crossed the county boundary between Cornwall and Devon.”

At the Boundary Commission hearings, which took place in Truro about twelve months ago, I argued that the whole process – with regard to Cornwall – was flawed and appealed to the BCE that they should recognise this and join us in making representations to central government to rethink their approach and make sure that a cross-Tamar Devonwall constituency was not created.

I am very disappointed, but not surprised, that the BCE has chosen not to do this. But, in addition, I am saddened at how it glossed over the massive level of opposition to this breach of Cornwall’s historic integrity.

After a further consultation, the final recommendations will be presented to the Westminster Parliament, sometime in 2018, and will need to be endorsed by MPs in a formal vote.

I am therefore perplexed that Theresa May’s Government is allowing the Review to continue, especially as they no longer have a majority in the House of Commons and senior Tories have admitted that their attempt to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 is doomed to failure.

The recommendations of the Boundary Commission will almost certainly not be supported by opposition MPs, or indeed their allies in the Democratic Unionist Party.

Some Conservative MPs are also unlikely to vote through the changes and I commend the MP for St Austell and Newquay, Steve Double, for making it clear that he will use his vote to oppose Devonwall. It is about time that his five parliamentary colleagues in Cornwall made the same pledge.

But most of all, I call on Theresa May to end this farce of a Boundary Review, to repeal the underlying legislation, and think again about how future reviews might be carried out.
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Published on 28th October 2017.

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