1. Indian-origin MP among 50 facing constituency changes in UK

Indian-origin MP among 50 facing constituency changes in UK

A veteran Indian-origin Labour party parliamentarian is among 50 British MPs facing the prospect of losing their traditional constituencies in a boundary shake-up unveiled today.

By: | London | Published: September 13, 2016 9:36 PM

A veteran Indian-origin Labour party parliamentarian is among 50 British MPs facing the prospect of losing their traditional constituencies in a boundary shake-up unveiled today.

69-year-old British-Punjabi Labour party MP, Virendra Sharma, has represented the Ealing Southall area, with a large number of Punjabi origin electorate, for nearly a decade.

However, under proposals to cut the size of the House of Commons from 650 MPs to 600, he joins the likes of Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn and former UK Chancellor George Osborne among the high-profile politicians set to lose out in the so-called boundary review.

“This would be a grave injustice. The Conservative party has completely ignored the traditions and unique identities of each constituency,” said Sharma.

With the Opposition Labour party being the hardest hit by the proposals, he said he feared a Tory plan to use the changes to their own “political advantage”.

A newly-published draft by the UK’s Boundary Commission covers England and Wales following Northern Ireland, which were published last week and Scotland is expected on October 20.

The number of MPs for the UK would be cut from 533 to 501 in England, from 40 to 29 in Wales, from 59 to 53 in Scotland and from 18 to 17 in Northern Ireland.

The ruling Conservative party had promised to “address the unfairness of the current Parliamentary boundaries” in their 2015 General Election manifesto.

A public consultation is under-way into the reforms, with final proposals due in October 2018.

If agreed by Parliament, the new boundaries would be in place by the 2020 General Election.

Under Labour party rules, an MP whose seat is being abolished has an automatic right to contest any new constituency which will contain at least 40 per cent of the old one.

Darren Williams, on Labour’s ruling body national executive committee, said the boundary changes “present an opportunity” for the party to select parliamentary candidates who support Corbyn – who is facing a leadership challenge from his party MPs.

The Boundary Commission for England said government legislation required it to use the December 2015 data and with four exceptions, every seat in the UK will have no fewer than 71,031 and no more than 78,507 electors.

Secretary for the commission in England, Sam Hartley, said the body did not take political ramifications into account, but took an independent view.

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