While the vast majority of Conservative MPs were spending Friday away from the House of Commons doing constituency work, Labour MPs (including Stephen Doughty MP for Cardiff South and Penarth) ambushed the Government on the Boundary Commission’s plans to re-organise the territories of UK Parliamentary constituencies.
Labour MPs voted 253 to 37 on the second reading of a Labour Bill which would – in theory – (although its unlikely ever to become law) frustrate the independent Boundary Commission’s forthcoming changes…including those for Cardiff South and Penarth.
Under the Boundary Commission’s proposed changes, the total number of MPs would be cut from the present 650 to 600, the Cardiff South and Penarth constituency would be scrapped to make way for a new “Cardiff South” constituency – and Penarth would be placed in a new constituency of “Vale of Glamorgan East”.
Today’s Labour Bill was an attempt to frustrate the Boundary Commission’s Parliamentary make-over by forcing it to use an “updated” electoral register and adopt a more flexible headcount for the number of voters in each revised constituency.
Parliamentary sources say that what Doughty has described as today’s Government “defeat” is likely to be a hollow victory for Labour. The Government is now likely to call a fresh parliamentary vote which will nullify today’s Labour vote – which has been called – “a Labour attempt at sabotage – motivated by self-preservation.”
The constitution minister Chris Skidmore said Labour MPs were only trying to scupper the Boundary Commission changes because so many of them are worried about being de-selected by pro-Corbyn Momentum activists. Skidmore said “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.”
Mr Skidmore said “Such Labour infighting is not a reason to hold back an already-delayed review by an independent and impartial body.”