SNP claim boundary reforms will ‘weaken Scotland’s voice’ with loss of two MPs

The SNP have criticised plans to reduce the number of Scottish MPs by two under new boundary proposals.

The Boundary Commission for Scotland has launched an eight-week public consultation on the proposals, which would see the number of MPs returned to Westminster go from 59 in previous votes to 57.

Glasgow and the north of Scotland would lose the seats, while widespread changes would see boundaries shift and constituencies renamed across the country.

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Scotland is set to lose two MPs under reforms to the boundaries.

This could include the seat of Douglas Ross, the leader of the Scottish Tories.

England would see an increase of 10 MPs, while Wales will lose eight, if the changes are implemented.

SNP Westminster deputy leader Kirsten Oswald MP claimed the plans meant “independence is the only way to keep Scotland safe”.

She said: “Tory plans to further reduce Scotland’s representation at Westminster, while increasing the number of MPs for England, underlines the need for Scotland to become an independent country – in full control of our own democratic decisions and with the full powers needed to build a stronger, fairer and greener future.

“The SNP will strongly oppose any attempt to weaken Scotland’s voice in the UK Parliament but the reality is Scotland will always be outvoted under the broken Westminster system – as we have seen with Tory austerity cuts, Brexit and power grabs imposed against Scotland’s will.”

The proposals aim to resolve parity issues in the number of voters in constituencies, and will have to be approved by Parliament.

Any changes would be intended to be in place by 2024 – when the next general election is expected.

The parameters of the review say the number of voters in each constituency must fall between about 70,000 and 77,000, unless the area would cover more than 12,000 square kilometres.

In a briefing on the changes, Professor Ailsa Henderson, who is also a commissioner on the review, said shifts in population sizes in different parts of the country had prompted the changes.

“The result of that is that there is a wide range of electors across the existing Scottish constituencies.

“The constituency with the smallest electorate is Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross which has 46,000 – almost 47,000 electors – but the constituency with the largest electorate is in Linlithgow and East Falkirk with 88,000 electors, which is a range of around 41,000 electors.”

The difference in Northern Ireland is just 18,000, 36,000 in Wales and 57,000 in England.

According to Prof Henderson, 27 constituencies in Scotland were below the quota set for the number of voters and 12 were above it.

Lord Matthews, the deputy chair of the commission and the person leading the review, said: “I believe this is a promising start to delivering the requirements of the new rules that mean the number of constituencies in Scotland will reduce from 59 to 57, and that each mainland constituency must have broadly the same number of electors.

“We have set out proposals today which do that and are, we believe, a good implementation of the rules set by Parliament.

“Today is the beginning of a process, and we now want to hear the views of the public. We will reflect on responses to the consultation and make changes where appropriate and where the legislation allows us to do so."

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “These proposals are at an early stage and we will scrutinise them in full before responding. We would encourage everyone to make their views known on how they wish to be represented at Westminster in the future.”

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