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Stone says proposed new Highland North constituency is 'stark raving bonkers'

By Gordon Calder

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A proposal to abolish the Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross constituency and create a much bigger Highland North one is "stark raving bonkers", according to MP Jamie Stone.

He is strongly opposed to the Boundary Commission for Scotland's plan and says it would "threaten democratic participation for people in the north."

The proposed new Highland North constituency
The proposed new Highland North constituency

The Liberal Democrat MP said the proposed constituency would be the largest in the UK and stretch from John O'Groats in the north to the A833 Drumnadrochit road in the south. It would gain a large portion of Wester Ross including, Ullapool, Garve and Torridon, as well as Dingwall and the Black Isle.

The new Highland North would see the electorate of the constituency rising from 46,924 to 76,654 – an increase of 29,730 constituents.

Mr Stone is dismayed by the commission's 2023 review and says the area would suffer "a democratic deficit" if the changes were implemented.

He said: "When these proposals were first mooted in 2018, I described the resulting constituency in the far north of Scotland as ‘stark raving bonkers.’ My position has not changed.

"It is clear that people living in the supersize constituency of Highland North would suffer a democratic deficit if these proposals were to succeed.

"Unamended, the new constituency would be 12,781 square kilometres in size, which would be the largest UK parliament constituency by a country mile. To drive from one end of it to the other would take around three hours."

Mr Stone added: "In order to properly serve the electorate, MPs must be able to visit all parts of the area they represent and constituents must have the ability to access their MP. It is hard to see how that would be possible in a constituency like Highland North.

"Ultimately, this proposal threatens democratic participation for people in the north of Scotland."

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