Politicians from across Cornwall’s party divisions united in opposition to the so called Devonwall plans today. Despite a record amount of opposition, the cross- Tamar seat has again been included in the Boundary Commission’s latest proposals, released today.
However Scott Mann, the North Cornwall MP who represents the constituency that will be directly affected has again refused to publicly condemn the plans.
Scott has always been conspicuously silent on the issue, but he spoke to Laurence Reed from Westminister today
“The parliamentary maths mean that in my view these proposals won’t pass” he told the popular BBC Cornwall lunchtime show.
“Do you want them to pass?” asked Laurence
“It will save £11 million. I think there are integral areas of the country that need to be kind of safeguarded. This all came about because the proposals were put in in 2011 and the boundary commission are under an obligation to present those proposals to government and they’ll be considered in September next year”
“My own view is that I need to focus on representing the views of my constituents, so when I get back into the constituency this week .. finding out how they feel about this”
The MP pointed out the difficulties of dealing with different authorities across the border but when asked directly if he would vote against it in the Commons the ex-postman MP told Laurence
“I haven’t given any assurances to the whips how I’ll vote one way or the other”
Asked if he’d had a conversation with Geoffrey Cocks the MP across the border about Devonwall, Scott Mann revealed that Mr Cox had himself expressed opposition to it.
“So he’s not in favour of it. You’re not in favour of it are you?” the MP was asked again
He still refused to take the opportunity to join just about everybody else and publicly oppose the Devonwall plans.
“I will go back and consult the people I represent” is all he said.
Find the whole show on BBC iplayer.
His Conservative colleague Steve Double had no trouble saying he will vote against Devonwall if it ever got to a commons division, when he told us this afternoon
“It is well recorded that I have opposed these plans. The Boundaries Commission have to follow this process as laid out in the legislation. I believe under the current Parliament it is highly unlikely these changes will go ahead and if they did under the current plans, I would continue my opposition to them.”
Mebyon Kernow’s leader Dick Cole called on the government to chuck out the whole review “As someone who has campaigned against the imposition of a ‘Devonwall’ parliamentary constituency for a number of years, I was pleased to see numerous recent newspaper reports that the Conservatives intended to scrap the Boundary Review.
“But I am perplexed that that Theresa May’s Government is allowing the Review to continue – especially as they no longer have a majority in the House of Commons and the recommendations of the Boundary Commission will almost certainly not be supported by opposition MPs or their friends in the Democratic Unionist Party.
“Senior Conservatives have already admitted that their attempt to reduce the number of MPs from 650 to 600 is doomed to failure, and I call on Theresa May to end this farce of a Boundary Review and think again.
“We will certainly be continuing with our campaigns to protect the territorial integrity of Cornwall, and for Cornwall to be treated as a distinct entity for the purposes of governance.”
Candy Atherton for Cornwall Labour told us
“Today is another grim day for the territorial integrity of Cornwall. The Parliamentary Boundary Commission has been unable to respond positively to the detailed and coherent case against a Devonwall constituency presented by myself and many other people and organisations across Cornwall. To be honest, this is no surprise. The rules formulated by many of those who now run the Government meant this outcome was almost inevitable.
However, the fight will go on. As the Leader of the largest group in Cornwall Council’s administration I will be urging the council to object yet again in what will be the last round of consultation. This time I hope the Conservatives will stand alongside the solid ranks of Lib Dem, Independent, Labour and Mebyon Kernow councillors who have stood up for Cornwall. Up until now they have been either indifferent or hostile to making a stand.
I also hope that, if all else fails, Parliament will reject the whole report a year from now. The spotlight will be on the 6 Conservative MPs for Cornwall whose votes will be critical.
Although I hope sincerely that this report will never be implemented, I am pleased that my other detailed comments are referred to several times in the report and that two detailed proposals affecting mid Cornwall that I made have been accepted. These would mean that St Columb Major would be in the same constituency as Newquay and St Stephen In Brannel in the same constituency as St Austell, which is logical”