Labour tasted victory today in the Commons. MPs voted 253 to 37 in favour of Pat Glass’s private member’s bill to stop the government reducing the number of MPs from 650 to 600, as part of the boundary change review. The bill will now face a second vote, where the Tories are confident they can thwart it. Figures in the party put Labour’s success down to many Tory MPs having returned to their constituencies, as well as a successful whipping operation from Nick Brown
While Glass has said she has no personal agenda — given that she is stepping down as an MP at the next election — a u-turn on the plans would certainly help her beleaguered party. While the changes proposed by the Boundary Commission aim to ensure each constituency has a similar population, Labour are expected to lose the most seats of any party. What’s more, many in the party are worried that it will open them up to deselection battles with Momentum.
With the SNP backing Labour on the issue, it’s thought a number of Tory MPs are also supportive of Glass’s bill. Peter Bone used the session today to raise concerns that a reduction in the number of MPs could mean the workload would be too big for those who remain. ‘The fact is if we’re going to put more and more work on us because of the EU, and at the same time reduce the number of MPs, we won’t do the scrutiny properly,’ he said.
Given how slim May’s majority is, she will be worried about how many Tory members are already making clear their concerns on the issue — and what implications this has for party discipline.