The proposed parliamentary boundary changes for England create multiple complications. But what the political world wants to know most of all is, who benefits?
The existing boundaries feature many Labour seats with too few voters (a bias the Conservatives have long complained of) that were in need of either reconfiguration or removal altogether. But following the collapse of the so-called Red Wall seats in the north and Midlands, the issue of sparsely populated Labour constituencies is less pressing for the Tories than it was in the past. As such, the proposed boundary changes will not benefit the Conservatives as much as previous reviews have done.
The review means two of three Hull seats will flip from Labour to Conservative, while Dewsbury will shift from the Conservatives to Labour. Lancaster (which replaces the Labour seat of Lancaster and Fleetwood) is now notionally Conservative, with a seven-point majority. Burnley, which fell to the Tories in the 2019 election by three points, is still Conservative under the proposed boundaries (now the geographically horrendous Burnley and Bacup seat), but by a slightly smaller margin.
Head down to the Black Country and Wolverhampton South East is now notionally a Conservative seat (Labour won it in 2019), whereas the proposed Wolverhampton West is a notional Labour seat. The new solitary Walsall seat is notionally Conservative, while Wakefield in Yorkshire would be held by Labour once more.
In Esher and Walton, the Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab might be fighting for his political life as his new seat is now notionally Liberal Democrat. According to our modelling, 48.1 per cent of voters living within the boundaries of the new constituency voted Lib Dem in the 2019 election, while 47.2 per cent voted Conservative.
The outlook is not looking entirely rosy for the Lib Dems: former leader Tim Farron’s hopes of remaining the party’s only northern England MP could be in peril as his Cumbria constituency of Westmorland and Lonsdale has all but disappeared. His best chance in an area made of staunch Tory seats is likely to be found in the new Westmorland and Eden, which absorbs a large portion of the Penrith and The Border seat. Modelling for that seat suggests the Lib Dems won 32 per cent of the vote at the last general election, while the Tories won 55 per cent.
The overall trend suggests the Conservatives will benefit most from these boundary changes, but from a slew of smaller majorities in the seats they gained in 2019.
Our overall projection of what the new boundaries mean, complete with seat-by-seat vote shares, will be published tomorrow.