Diane Abbott: I’ll let Jeremy Corbyn be MP for Stoke Newington if boundary changes go ahead
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Hackney MP Diane Abbott has insisted she will not be drawn into a fight over her seat with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
She made the pledge discussing the government’s proposed boundary changes on the record for the first time.
They could see her Hackney North and Stoke Newington seat replaced by a Finsbury Park and Stoke Newington seat straddling the Islington boundary.
Ms Abbott believes the motivation behind the changes is to reduce the number of Labour seats, and she warned they will cause havoc and split her community.
The shadow home secretary echoed comments made by her long-time friend and Labour leader Mr Corbyn last month. Four seats in Hackney and Islington, including his Islington North constituency, are set to be replaced by three.
Speaking to the Gazette, Ms Abbott said: “The old boundary review process had rules where you tried not to cross borough boundaries and you tried to keep communities together.
“This boundary review is nakedly political and has split communities.
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“If it goes through is going to create all types of havoc.”
But she added: “I’m not going to contest the same seat as Jeremy.
“Our population in Hackney is undercounted and that’s a big problem.
“I think it’s a way of targeting Labour voters. The Tories have always been very clear this boundary review is about having less Labour seats.”
The Boundary Commission said its aim was to even out the number of electors in each constituency and cut the number of representatives from 650 to 600.
“Do you need fewer MPs? I don’t know,” she said. “But MPs are expected to do more than ever because of the cuts to local government. We have a huge case load. MPs – certainly London MPs – aren’t short of work.”
Critics of the proposals say Hackney has been treated unfairly because it is based on a new registration system and thousands of people in the borough didn’t sign up on time. They also argue inner city areas with large movements of people renting property are under-represented.