Lothian set to lose MP in boundary shake-up

Top SNP figures could be forced to go head-to-head.

FINAL plans to redraw the Lothians’ Westminster map could see two sitting SNP MPs forced to go head-to-head for one seat.

Boundary Commission proposals would merge most of Hannah Bardell’s Livingston constituency and most of Joanna Cherry’s Edinburgh South West seat as part of a UK-wide drive to cut the number of MPs from 650 to 600.

But there are signs the proposed shake-up of Commons boundaries may not go ahead. The UK Government is said to fear the changes could fuel Tory divisions over Brexit.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s seat would disappear under the plans and former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson would struggle to hold on to his.

The first draft of the boundary changes, unveiled in 2016, would have scrapped Labour MP Ian Murray’s Edinburgh South seat. But revised proposals released in October last year reversed that plan and suggested instead the creation of an Edinburgh Pentland and Livingston seat.

That merger has now survived to the commission’s final recommendations, but the name is flipped round to become Livingston and Edinburgh Pentland.

Some other proposals have been tweaked. The New Town will now stay part of Edinburgh North & Leith despite previous plans to transfer it to Edinburgh East. The commission said this better reflected local ties in the New Town and the West End. Edinburgh East will lose the Old Town west of North Bridge, but keep the lower part of the Royal Mile.

And plans to rename Edinburgh South as Edinburgh Southside have been dropped.

Ms Cherry said: “Brexit is set to be a disaster for Edinburgh despite our overwhelming vote for remain and the votes of Scotland’s Parliament. How the UK Government can countenance further reducing Scotland’s voice at Westminster, particularly at this time, is beyond me.

“However, I think it’s likely given the perilous state of Theresa May’s Government there will be another General Election on existing boundaries well before 2022 and I Intend to continue to serve my constituents of Edinburgh South West for as long as the want me to.”

Edinburgh East SNP MSP Tommy Sheppard said the proposed changes were “all academic” because there was no majority in parliament to approve them.

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