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Emily Thornberry on boundary review: ‘How on earth can Islington be too small for two MPs?’

PUBLISHED: 16:06 13 September 2016 | UPDATED: 17:15 13 September 2016

Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry. Picture: Yui Mok/PA Wire

PA/Press Association Images

Islington South and Finsbury MP Emily Thornberry this afternoon said “the fight is on” against plans to re-draw constituency boundaries.

Emily Thornberry MP at a Housing Bill protest outside Islington Town Hall, in her current Islington South and Finsbury constituency, in April. Picture: Polly HancockEmily Thornberry MP at a Housing Bill protest outside Islington Town Hall, in her current Islington South and Finsbury constituency, in April. Picture: Polly Hancock

The Boundary Commission for England intends to merge most of Jeremy Corbyn’s Islington North constituency into a new Finsbury Park and Stoke Newington seat. Two other wards would move to Holborn and St Pancras. Mrs Thornberry’s seat would be largely untouched but renamed “Islington”.

She said: “The idea of Islington being too small for two MPs is completely ridiculous. How on earth can it be too small? You can see it for yourself if you walk around. It’s the most densely populated borough in the country, with the least amount of green space.”

The commission has been tasked by Parliament to create equal-sized seats by reducing the number of constituencies from 650 to 600. But Mrs Thornberry told the Gazette it was the Conservative government’s ploy for “staying in power forever”.

Mrs Thornberry criticised the plans for only taking registered voters into account, rather than actual populations. “This whole process is profoundly wrong,” she said. “The idea of changing boundaries on the basis of the voter register, which is missing two million people, is wrong.

“In somewhere like Islington, huge numbers of adults don’t exist as far as the register is concerned. Many are Europeans, for example. I do my best to represent everyone but an area like mine will be completely unrepresented under these changes.

“Look at Maidenhead [Conervative Prime Minister Theresa May’s constituency], for instance. Compared to my constituency, it has a much more established population. Far fewer young people, far fewer people coming in.

“We have a fight on our hands. We are going to make it clear this isn’t fair, especially at a time when the House of Lords is being crammed with more peers.”

Mrs Thornberry added: “I don’t blame the commission. It’s very hard for it to have come out with figures that were fair. I blame the Conservative government for ordering this review as a way of staying in power forever.”

Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn is yet to respond to the Gazette.

Jeremy Corbyn and Islington Council leader Richard Watts at a Gillespie Park celebration in May. Picture: Ellie HoskinsJeremy Corbyn and Islington Council leader Richard Watts at a Gillespie Park celebration in May. Picture: Ellie Hoskins

Council

Islington Council leader Richard Watts said this afternoon: “It doesn’t affect the council boundaries, of course. There’s no direct impact on us. Having said that, this looks like Tory gerrymandering.

“Islington is served very well by two very hard-working MPs whose sole responsibility is Islington. That focus helps the council work well with them. What the commission has come up with will make life much more difficult across different constituency areas.

“The premise of the changes is ridiculous. It’s such hypocrisy to say we need less MPs when they government is appointing Lords hand over fist. The House of Lords has never been bigger.”


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