Labour set to benefit from London constituencies shake-up

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (PA Wire)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (PA Wire)

Labour is set to benefit from a constituencies shake-up in London, strengthening the party’s stronghold on the capital.

Proposed boundary changes, due to come into force next year ahead of a likely 2024 election, mean the city would gain two brand new MPs - increasing London’s representation in Parliament from 73 seats to 75.

Across the south east a further seven constituencies will be created because of rising populations, while Wales, Scotland and the north will lose MPs under the plans from the Boundary Commission.

At the 2019 election, Labour won 49 seats in London, the Conservatives 21 and the Liberal Democrats three.

A new seat named Stratford and Bow is set to be created in Newham and Tower Hamlets. The boroughs, which have usually voted Labour, will have five MPs rather than four.

South London will also gain an extra MP around Peckham and Brixton, areas which have also traditionally voted for the party.

However, dozens of constituencies in the capital are being carved up which could leave existing MPs squabbling over who takes up the new seats.

Tulip Siddiq (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)
Tulip Siddiq (Victoria Jones/PA) (PA Wire)

Dramatic revisions are proposed to constituencies in the boroughs of Barnet, Brent, Camden, City of London, Enfield, Haringey, Kensington and Chelsea, and Westminster, in particular.

Although the changes are likely to broadly help Labour in the capital, Conservative MPs are understood to be relieved that earlier proposals to redraw constituencies in North West London have been dropped.

If the Boundary Commission had pressed ahead with the changes, then they could have made marginal constitiencies such as Theresa Villiers’ Chipping Barnet seat even tighter for the Tories to hold on to.

But the Commission concluded: “In light of their analysis of representations and counter-proposals, the Assistant Commissioners recommended that the Conservative Party’s counter-proposal for the borough of Barnet – specifically, their three proposed constituencies of Chipping Barnet, Hendon, and Finchley and Golders Green – should be adopted. We agree with their recommendation, determining that the Conservative Party’s counter-proposal best reflects the statutory factors for that borough.”

Elsewhere the proposed changes mean Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer could be forced to move out of his own Holborn and St Pancras constituency in the first change in parliamentary boundaries there for 15 years.

It would instead be part of a Hampstead and Highgate seat, which could be represented by current Kilburn MP Tulip Siddiq.

But the revisions would see Jeremy Corbyn’s seat, Islington North, remain wholly unchanged.

There are also significant reconfigurations in Croydon and some parts of Bromley under the changes

A Labour source said that sitting MPs will all be entitled to make claims on new seats and the party was “confident there will be a seat for everyone” in London.

They added that the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) “will agree procedures in due course”.

The boundary changes have been sparked by population fluctuations.

Constituencies should represent between 69,000 and 77,000 voters and an increasing number of people living in London and the south east mean the region will gain nine MPs at the expense of less populated areas.

Sir Gavin Williamson is among those who could lose his seat.

The cabinet minister, who resigned on Tuesday over a bullying scandal, failed in his bid to prevent his Staffordshire constituency being carved up and his seat is set to merge with part of South Dudley, currently held by Tory MP Mike Wood, to become Kingswinford and South Staffordshire.

The changes could see Sir Gavin fighting Conservative colleagues to contest the next election, as the number of MPs representing the county of Staffordshire shrinks from 12 to 11.

Another loser could be Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab, with the Liberal Democrats believing the changes will increase their odds of snatching his Surrey seat.

Mr Raab’s has a slim majority in Esher and Walton, and it is a key target seat for the Lib Dems.

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: “We’ve been making great progress in this seat and are confident we can take the fight to the Conservatives there whatever the boundaries.”

Outside of London and the south east, elections expert Lord Hayward said the Tory party are the main beneficiary of the changes.

“Broadly the Tories will gain five to 10 seats net because the new seats are in overwhelmingly Tory areas,” the Conservative peer said.