Jeremy Corbyn ally calls boundaries review a chance to purge ‘disloyal’ Labour MPs

‘The redrawing of boundaries does represent an opportunity’

Rob Merrick
Deputy Political Editor
Tuesday 13 September 2016 09:23 BST
The call might alarm the majority of Labour MPs, who passed a vote of no confidence in Mr Corbyn in July
The call might alarm the majority of Labour MPs, who passed a vote of no confidence in Mr Corbyn in July (Getty)

“Disloyal” MPs should be purged when the boundaries of Westminster constituencies are redrawn, an ally of Jeremy Corbyn on Labour’s ruling body has said.

Darren Williams said the boundaries shake-up – which will remove 50 seats and dramatically alter most of the rest – represents an “opportunity” to get rid of Labour MPs who have attacked their leader.

The call will alarm the majority of Labour MPs, who passed a vote of no confidence in Mr Corbyn in July and are desperate for him to lose the current leadership race.

Wayne David, an MP in Wales, where 11 seats will disappear, said he feared a “purge” led by the Corbynite grassroots group Momentum, adding, “it’s a recipe for civil war inside the party”.

Moderate Labour MPs whose seats are at risk include Owen Smith, the leadership challenger, and Vernon Coaker, Chris Leslie, Tristram Hunt, Stella Creasy, Ian Austin and John Woodcock, many of whom are former ministers.

Under Labour rules, an MP whose seat is being abolished has an automatic right to contest any new constituency which will contain at least 40 per cent of the old one.

Conservatives criticised as proposed boundary changes hit Labour

But Mr Williams, who has a seat on Labour’s national executive committee (NEC), told the BBC: “Where MPs have consistently demonstrated a disloyalty to the party leader and to the views on which he was elected, then I think party members are within their rights to ask whether those MPs should continue to represent them.

“The redrawing of boundaries does represent an opportunity for the selection of some new candidates who may be more in tune with the views of ordinary party members.”

Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme, one senior Labour MP tried to calm fears of a purge, suggesting Mr Williams was a maverick out of step with Mr Corbyn on the issue.

Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow minister without portfolio, said: “People in Jeremy’s office will be tearing their hair out at that contribution, because that’s not the position of Jeremy or his people.

“This is not about deselecting MPs. If people think it is about deselecting MPs, they are going to be in for a shock.

“This is about ensuring MPs have the right to contest seats where they have a claim.”

Mr Ashworth repeated Labour’s protest that the boundaries shake-up was unfair and undemocratic because its calculations exclude two million voters.

They are people who registered after the December 2015 deadline for the completion of individual voter registration, the figures used by the independent Boundary Commission to redraw the map.

Mr Ashworth also pointed out the absurdity of seats crossing rivers and “mountain ranges”, adding: “The seats no longer take account of natural boundaries”.

The proposed new boundaries are likely to be rejigged as part of a consultation that begins today.

And they must also overcome opposition among Tory MPs who will lose their seats, before they are introduced for the 2020 general election.

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