The prospect of Ed Balls and Hilary Benn being forced to fight it out for a safe seat in Leeds ahead of the next General Election have receded after revised boundary changes were announced.
The Boundary Commission for England yesterday published updated versions of its plans to cut the number of MPs from 660 to 600.
The revised plan would still see Yorkshire lose four of its 54 MPs as before, but the way in which the boundaries are divided – crucial to deciding which seats are deemed safe and which marginal – have been drastically altered.
The changes in Leeds now leave two potentially safe Labour seats at ‘Leeds South East and Castleford’, and ‘Leeds Metropolitan and Ossett’.
That meaning Shadow Chancellor Mr Balls – whose current Morley and Outwood seat is a marginal – could be handed a safe powerbase without having a selection battle with Mr Benn, the MP for Leeds Central.
However, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg made clear again yesterday that the proposals are effectively academic.
Liberal Democrat MPs have resolved to veto the plan when it is brought before Parliament next year, in response to the Conservative Party’s failure to back House of Lords reform.
Speaking in the Commons, Mr Clegg said: “We are not going to introduce the changes ahead of the General Election in 2015.”
Justifying his party’s stance, he added: “When one party does not abide by a certain part of that deal, it’s perfectly legitimate for the other party to say it will amend the terms of that deal. That is the meaning of coalition politics.”
Research published yesterday showed the Conservatives have the most to lose from the changes being dropped.
A new study suggested that had the boundary changes been in place at the last General Election, the Tories would have won a clear majority.