Theresa May’s snap election has thrown a spanner in the works of the conventional political calendar (intentionally so, if you were to believe her opposition). Whilst the announcement to hold a general election in June has ruffled feathers among UK political parties and indeed the public, it has also actively affected recent propositions that were initially assembled under the assumption that the next election would take place in 2020. One notable example is the constitution boundary changes.
In September 2016, the Boundary Commission published documents that suggested the electoral map of Britain was set for an overhaul and revamp, with propositions for as many as 50 constituencies to be slashed in a major redrawing project. This would cut the number of MPs in the country from 650 to 600, with England losing 32 constituencies, Wales losing 11, Scotland losing 6, and Northern Ireland losing 1.
The constituency changes involved in a high number of major political players, with Jeremy Corbyn, Ed Miliband, Caroline Lucas, Boris Johnson, and Jeremy Hunt all expecting to see their constituencies carved up, split, or decimated completely.
However, the snap election has meant that the proposed electoral map modifications will not be in effect for the next general election as initially expected, and this raises a number of interesting questions.
If they aren’t happening now, when will the boundary changes take place?
This depends on who wins the general election on 8th June this year. The early suggestions indicated by polls seem to imply that the Tories will emerge victorious and, if so, Theresa May’s party will be forced to reintroduce the proposed boundary changes following the 2017 vote. It is likely that they will then attempt to implement them in time for the next general election – which probably won’t be until 2022. If any other party is voted into power in June, they will have the opportunity to reassess the boundaries and incorporate their own version into their manifesto.
Will the boundary changes ever happen?
Now that the snap election has been called, many are beginning to question whether the constituency alterations proposed back in September will ever actually take place. The answer is difficult to determine at present, but it is very possible that (regardless of what happens in the general election) they will not happen in the exact format and fashion that was suggested by the Boundary Commission during Autumn of last year.
What will happen in the meantime?
The snap election means that the total number of MPs in the country is unlikely to be reduced for some time – if ever. Instead, the Conservatives are expected to draw up a policy that suggests equalisation of the current constituencies, rather than separation and removal.
The boundary vicissitudes that threatened to change British politics forever are not likely to happen anytime soon, but we will have a much clearer picture of what is happening with regards to existing constituencies once the dust has settled after the 2017 election.