Government Minister's arrogant response causes even more anger in Cornwall!

News from Kernow Mattters To Us:

Devonwall Cross Border Constituency - An Update

Recently, Cornwall Councillor Dick Cole wrote to Chris Skidmore MP who is the Government Minister for the Constitution. The reply back was shocking, indeed some would say insulting. Our Secretary has written to him in no uncertain terms asking him to withdraw his comments by the end of the month.

Now, we in Cornwall are used to be told lies and being treated as second class citizens by a distant and uncaring Westminster Government. 

Take for example the 2003 Government recognition of the Cornish language and the sudden halt to the funding of it earlier this year. (see: ) That's £150,000 of OUR tax money withheld from us. Compare that to the £84.4 million spent on bombing Syria and Iraq ( ), the fact that the Westminster Government is prepared to spend £10 million on teaching English to Syrian refugees ( see: ) to the eye-watering expenses claims by some MPs ( see: ) or the other massive sums squandered by the Westminster Government and then that £150,000 is placed in some perspective.

Now, the Westminster Government has cast another the rights given to the Cornish in another agreement to one side, notably the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities and that is something we shall not forget.

Both Councillor Cole's letter and the response he received are below.

Border Protest

A group of ladies in north Cornwall, some of them Bards of Gorsedh Kernow, are organising a border protest and rally on Sunday 30th October, 2016 and a lot of us are set to join them. The peaceful protest will last from 11am until 4pm and we await more details including the venue which will be circulated in due course. This will be the first of many, we feel.

The unelected quango that is the Boundaries Commission are coming to Truro

The Boundaries Commission themselves are coming to Cornwall on Thursday 10th and Friday 11th November, 2016 for a public hearing at 'County Hall' concerning the boundary changes. A number of our team are booked to speak. ( see: ) Because this is a public hearing, we are encouraging one and all to attend. The hearing begins at 10am on the Thursday! 

 The anger regarding 'Devonwall' is increasing

The Leader of Cornwall Council. Cllr John Pollard has branded the proposals as 'inequitable and unlawful' ( )

Cornish writer and poet, Natasha Carthew, writing on 13th September, 2016, stated that she was so angry that she proposed a march up the M5. (and with the police so badly cut back and hollowed out, who would stop that?)

Dr Merv Davey, Grand Bard of our much respected Gorsedh Kernow has said  'Any recommendation that parts of Cornwall are placed within Devon constituencies would be a disaster for Cornish democracy, heritage, culture and our national identity.' ( see: )

The Mayor of Launceston, Councillor Brian Hogan, summed up the mood following the Devonwall announcement as angry. 'The people of Cornwall have fought long and hard to preserve their sense of identity. They are not keen on centuries of history being chucked out because of red tape. There’s a lot of anger around here. Cornwall is passionate about its own identity.' ( see: )

Paul Walter, a Liberal Democrat Party Member from Bude has said 'I’ve got a feeling that Theresa May will soon realize she has made a mistake here, when she hears the strength of feeling in Cornwall about this.' ( see: )

Finally, the Westminster Parliamentary member for Torridge in Devon, Geoffrey Cox MP (Conservative) stated: '……I will say that I am disappointed that the Commission has resorted once again to the flawed notion of a hybrid Devon-Cornish seat.' , 'I believe it is not desirable to have a constituency that straddles the divide.' , 'These two counties are very distinct and have strong separate identities.' ( see: )

There are many more! In fact, thousands of them on our social media accounts from ordinary folks in Cornwall and from further away. Make no bones about it - the public don't want this nonsense!

The letters from Cllr Cole to Mr Skidmore and the disgraceful brush off!

Chris Skidmore MP 

Parliamentary Secretary (Minister for the Constitution) 
Cabinet Office 

The Parliamentary Boundary Review; Cornwall and the implications of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities

In April 2014, the Coalition Government recognised the Cornish people through the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities. The official governmental press release stated that “the decision to recognise the unique identity of the Cornish, now affords them the same status … as the UK’s other Celtic people, the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish.”

This landmark recognition came after many years of campaigning and, as a consequence, was warmly welcomed across Cornwall.

But two years on, there is a growing frustration that central government is failing to act on the various articles within the Framework Convention.

In particular, I am writing to you as the new Minister for the Constitution with regard to the Boundary Committee’s review of parliamentary constituencies for the 2020 General Election.

As you will be aware, the previous (Coalition) Government passed the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, which stated that the number of seats in the UK parliament should be reduced to 600 and – unless specified in the legislation – the electorates for seats should be within 5% of the various averages for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Sadly, the Act does not recognise the territorial integrity of Cornwall and, as the legislation stands, the outcome of any Boundary Review (based on the provisions within the Act and the present electorate of Cornwall) would inevitably include the creation of a cross-Tamar “Devonwall” constituency.

We would wish to point out that it is since the Act was agreed, that the UK Government agreed the Cornish are covered by the auspices of the Framework Convention.

We would therefore contend that the legislation which guides the Boundary Review is against the spirit and intent of the Framework Convention, which, as well as protecting the culture and identity of national minorities, also seeks to protect the political integrity of territories associated with such groups.

In the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, the territories of other national minorities within the United Kingdom (namely the Scots, the Welsh and Northern Irish) are safeguarded and no seats can be proposed which would cross the borders between England and Scotland or Wales.

We would therefore request that central government amend the Act, prior to completion of the parliamentary constituency review, in order ensure that all Cornish constituencies lie entirely within the boundaries of Cornwall (and the Isles of Scilly).

It is our view that it would be relatively simple for central government to do this. Only a few months ago, the Government agreed “emergency” legislation to extend the deadline for people seeking to register to vote in the referendum on the EU following the failure of the Government’s registration website.

The Government could likewise deliver a simple amendment to the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act, to respect the Framework Convention and Keep Cornwall Whole. And we would appeal to you to take this course of action as the Minister for the Constitution.

We look forward to hearing from you and would welcome the opportunity to make further representations to you if that would be helpful.


Mr Skidmore's response:


"The Government is committed to fair and equal representation for voters, and updating the historical constituency boundaries will make sure that everyone's vote carries more equal value. Under the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, which was agreed in the last Parliament, all constituencies are to be within 95 per cent to 105% of a single United Kingdom electoral quota, with the exception of four island constituencies - two in Scotland (Orkney and Shetland, and Na h-Eileanan an Iar) and two in England (Isle of Wight). I am aware that it has been argued that other geographical areas should be treated as a special case and be included in the list of protected areas. However, this matter was debated at length by Parliament in its consideration of the legislation. The Government does not believe it should now seek to change the rules that the Boundary Commissions must apply when proposing new constituency boundaries.

"I note that you have explained that Cornwall has now been included in the Framework for the Protection of National Minorities (sic). However, the Government considers that equality and fairness must be the overriding principles when the Commissions carry out boundary reviews. For something as important as the right to choose the Government of the day, it is important that votes carry a more equal weight across the country. For this to be the case between, as well as within constituencies, each must contain an approximately equal number of electors.

"The current boundary review should, therefore, take its course in line with the legislation agreed by Parliament. It is for the independent Boundary Commissions to make recommendations, weighing the factors in legislation. The Boundary Commission for England has published its initial proposals for the new parliamentary constituencies and there is now a public consultation on them, which will provide an opportunity for representations to be submitted on the proposed boundaries."


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