MPs are queuing up in Portcullis House to get a first look at the proposed boundary changes, which have just been released. The changes are under embargo until midnight tonight, but some rumours are already leaking out.
Some 50 MPs could face losing their seats. It is speculated that three cabinet members could be at risk: the Chancellor, George Osborne, the Energy Secretary, Chris Huhne and the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander.
Boundary changes not only change safe seats into marginals (and vice versa); they can also end up pitting members of the same party against each other.
Here are some of the rumours circulating around Westminster at the moment:
– Nick Clegg could also face problems. Paul Waugh reports that his constituency might be gaining a section of Labour Sheffield, which would dilute his share of the vote.
– Vince Cable’s Twickenham seat could be merged with Zac Goldsmith’s Richmond Park. It is unconfirmed whether Cable will be losing his seat.
– If these rumours are true, there is lots of bad news for prominent Liberal Democrats. The outspoken party president, Tim Farron, may have his constituency carved up between John Woodcock’s Barrow and Furness and Rory Stewart’s Penrith. If both Farron and Cable lose their seats, there is likely to be a Lib Dem backlash against the bill.
– It’s not all bad for the Lib Dems though. Simon Hughes’ seat is set to become Bermondsey and Waterloo, which Mark Ferguson reports may be even safer post-changes.
– There could be some tough choices for Labour. Changes to Streatham mean that rising star and shadow business minister, Chuka Umunna, could lose his seat, as could Kate Hooey.
– Ed Balls’ seat is reportedly being split into Leeds South and Outwood and Leeds South-West and Morley.
We’ll be confirming (or not) these rumours when more concrete information becomes available.