LONDON — Theresa May is set to reverse government plans to cut the number of MPs in the House of Commons by 50 following her failure to win a majority in the general election.
The Conservative manifesto promised the party would reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 in an effort to save money and modernise Parliament to make it “similar to other western democratic chambers.”
Senior Conservatives have now suggested that agreeing on new boundaries could nbe impossible to pass with a minority government.
Three senior sources told the Times newspaper that the government will drop plans to decrease the number of MPs, which would be the latest manifesto policy to be scrapped alongside changing social care and expanding the grammar school programme.
A source said: “The plan to reduce the Commons to 600 was a colossal liability which could only have been simply implemented if they had got a 100-plus seat majority in June, which they did not.”
The Boundary Commission published a draft of new seat boundaries last year, which would require a Commons vote in 2018, which would be very difficult under a government without a majority.
The Democratic Unionist Party refused to back boundary changes in their “confidence and supply” deal with the Tory government, which gives Prime Minister May a working majority. The changes would decrease the number of seats in Northern Ireland.
The DUP said that this “would have the potential [for] far-reaching and negative political consequences for the constitutional stability,” as the four Belfast constituencies would become three, which could mean an extra seat for Sinn Fein.
May is expected to ask the Boundary Commission to redo the review on the understanding that there are 650 MPs in order to make constituencies equal sizes.
Labour opposes the idea of reducing MPs as it would adversely impact the number of seats in urban areas where the party is most successful.
A Downing Street spokesperson said: “The independent Boundary Commissions are continuing the process set out in the Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Act 2011 to bring forward proposals for a fairer House of Commons based on 600 equally sized seats, and these will be brought forward to parliament in due course.”
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