Scottish Secretary faces being ousted from the Borders
Scottish secretary David Mundell has told of his disappointment after a review of UK Government constituencies, set to be voted for by MPs, would see him edged out of the Borders.
The review, undertaken by the Boundaries Commission for Scotland, has been carried out under the 1986 Parliamentary Constituencies Act.
After the act was amended in 2011, the various boundary commissions of the countries making up the UK have been tasked with redrawing the UK’s political map every five years to take account of changes in population shifts.
However, a planned change in 2013 was abandoned after the Liberal Democrats, at the time in a coalition government with the Conservatives, withdrew their support for it.
The amount of constituencies across the UK is to be reduced from 650 to 600, and in Scotland that would see 59 constituencies knocked down to 53.
As well as reducing the number of seats, the review aims to make constituencies more equal in terms of number of voters – between 71,031 and 78,507.
The proposed changes see Mr Mundell’s Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale seat broken up, with his foothold in the Borders disappearing.
The towns of Walkerburn, Innerleithen and Traquair would be added to the Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk constituency, currently held by fellow Conservative John Lamont, and Cardrona and Peebles would move into a new Midlothian and Upper Tweeddale seat.
The rest of Mr Mundell’s constituency would be replaced by a Dumfriesshire and Lanarkshire South East seat.
Mr Mundell said: “Having represented Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale at Westminster for over 13 years, I would be extremely disappointed to see the constituency broken up.
“However, at least the revised proposals for new constituencies have taken on board local concerns in Dumfriesshire and will see the Annan area be in the same constituency as Annandale and Eskdale and Heathhall and Locharbriggs will remain with Dumfries.
“It will now be for Parliament to decide whether these changes are adopted.”
Westminster’s public administration committee has urged MPs to vote sooner rather than later on the proposals as there would soon be no time to start redrawing boundaries again and the 2022 election would be held using outdated boundaries.
The UK Parliament was due to decide this autumn if and when the recommendations are implemented, but it is believed that at least 10 Conservative MPs are ready to rebel and vote against that, enough to defeat the proposals.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Theresa May has since refused to commit to a vote before Christmas, only saying it would take place “in due course”.
The hesitation is understandable as, for some MPs, it is akin to turkeys voting for Christmas.
Mr Lamont said he would have to look at how the changes would impact across the country before he was ready to make a decision.
He said: “The proposals from the Boundary Commission would add Innerleithen, Walkerburn and Traquair to my constituency.
“It will now be up to the UK Parliament to decide whether to support these proposals or not.
“I will be looking closely at the impact of these proposals across Scotland when deciding how I will vote.
“This review makes my constituency larger in size, but it also significantly addresses the current discrepancy between the number of voters in each constituency.
“Excluding the island constituencies, an MP can represent anywhere from 93,000 voters to 47,000, which is far from ideal in terms of democratic representation.”