Bethnal Green and Bow seat to be split under boundary changes

Rushanara Ali MP
Labour’s Rushanara Ali MP

Labour’s Rushanara Ali could be set to lose out under proposed boundary reforms aimed at cutting the number of MPs.

Under draft plans, Ali’s Bethnal Green and Bow seat would be split between two new ones – Hackney West and Bethnal Green, and Bow and Canning Town.

Depending on what other Labour MPs representing neighbouring constituencies decide, this could lead to her ending up in a contest with Hackney South and Shoreditch MP Meg Hillier.

Hillier’s seat would also disappear from the redrawn electoral map.

Alternatively, Ali may move to contest the Poplar and Limehouse seat currently occupied by Jim Fitzpatrick, who is expected to stand down at the next election.

Another possibility might be that Hillier could vie with Diane Abbott, one of Jeremy Corbyn’s closest allies, for the chance to contest a new Hackney Central seat at the 2020 general election.

Since the two local MPs are seen as representing rival wings of their party, the result of such a fight would be likely to prove indicative of Labour’s wider direction.

According to Labour party rules, a sitting MP has a territorial claim on a newly created seat containing at least four tenths of their current one.

The East End Citizen has approached Ali’s office for comment and is awaiting her reply.

The draft plans published by the Boundary Commission are part of reforms which would see the House of Commons reduce from 650 MPs to 600.

A consultation is ongoing and final proposals will be set out in 2018.

The changes are meant to ensure each constituency in the UK contains approximately the same electoral quota, or number of people eligible to vote.

Should Corbyn win the Labour leadership election, the result of which will be announced next week, his allies and supporters may use the boundary changes to try and force out some MPs who they view as disloyal.

Darren Williams, a Corbyn-supporting member of Labour’s ruling NEC effectively said as much when he appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme.

He said: “I do think the redrawing of boundaries does present an opportunity for the selection of some new candidates who may be more in tune with the views of ordinary party members.”

The number of constituencies in London must reduce from 73 to 68, the Boundary Commission says.

By law, every constituency proposed must contain between 71,031 and 78,507 eligible voters.

Update: At 10.30am on Thursday 15 September Rushanara Ali sent the following response:

“I have concerns about the Boundary Commission’s plans in their current form. This review uses old data, ignoring two million newly registered voters. And shrinking the House of Commons whilst the number of unelected Peers in the Lords increases every year is wrong-headed and undermining of our democracy.

“The report calls for parliamentary constituencies across the country to be more evenly sized, and aims to reduce the overall number from 650 to 600. My constituency of Bethnal Green and Bow will be affected, but so will nine out of 10 constituencies across the country. In London 95 per cent of constituencies may change in some way.

“This is the beginning of a two year-long process and reviews such as these happen quite regularly. The last took place before the 2010 General Election and show that the first plans, such as in this case, are in no way final.”

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