Solitary Scottish Labour MP faces battle amid constituencies shake-up

Updated: 

The seat held by Labour's only Scottish MP Ian Murray is among those facing the axe as part of wide-ranging changes to Scotland's Westminster constituencies.

The number of MPs in Scotland is being cut from 59 to 53 as part of a plan to reduce the total number of Westminster seats from 650 to 600 ahead of the 2020 general election.

Initial proposals published by the Boundary Commission for Scotland reveal only three seats north of the border remain completely unchanged - the two protected islands constituencies and East Lothian.

A further 16 have retained their names but will see changes to a greater or lesser extent.

Ian Murray speaks at the Labour Party conference
Ian Murray's constituency is in line to be abolished (Jonathan Brady/PA)

The abolition of the remaining 40 seats will see a scramble by MPs for the 34 new ones which replace them.

Under the plans, Murray sees his Edinburgh South constituency disappear, absorbed into the new expanded Edinburgh East and Edinburgh South West & Central seats.

He could face a battle against current Edinburgh East MP Tommy Sheppard or Edinburgh South West MP Joanna Cherry in 2020.

Murray said the "Tory proposals to redraw constituency boundaries are unfair, undemocratic and unacceptable".

"They are based on an out-of-date version of the electoral register with nearly two million voters across the UK missing," he said.

"While the Tories say this is to reduce the cost of politics, they are cutting directly elected representatives and stuffing the House of Lords with their own supporters."

Stewart Hosie, who stood down as SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon's deputy earlier this year over allegations about his private life, faces a similar problem in Dundee, with his Dundee East seat largely absorbed into the new Angus Glens & Dundee East constituency.

Former SNP deputy leader Stewart Hosie
Stewart Hosie's constituency is also under threat (Danny Lawson/PA)

He faces challenging Dundee West MP Chris Law for the newly created Dundee seat or battling Mike Weir, whose current Angus seat covers much of the new Angus Glens and Dundee East seat.

The Conservatives' hold on their only seat north of the border will be challenged by the abolition of David Mundell's Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale constituency, and its replacement by the new Clydesdale & Eskdale, and Midlothian & Peebles seats.

Under new rules, constituencies should be within 5% of the UK electoral average or "quota" of 74,769, with exceptions made when the constituency is larger than 12,000 square kilometres.

Consultation on the initial proposals runs until January 11, with final proposals due to be submitted for UK Parliament approval in September 2018.