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Its electorate of 110,924 (as of 2010[update]) is, by more than 30,000 electors, the largest in the UK, more than 50% above the English average: 71,537, and five times the size of the smallest seat: Na h-Eileanan an Iar, formerly known as the Western Isles.
One or two seats problem
Each national Boundary Commission Periodic Reports which have taken place since 1955 consulted locally on splitting the island into two seats (and included occasionally proposals for a seat crossing the Solent onto the mainland) but met an overall distaste by the independent commissioners and most consultees and consultation respondents. The consensus of varying panels of Boundary Commissioners, party-interested and neutral commentators is that the island would be best represented by one MP. The Commissioners did make mention perfunctorily of their duty by law to avoid such an extent of malapportionment (termed by most commissioners "leaving the island somewhat oversized"). One problem the independent body cited in 2008 was a difficulty of dividing the island in two in a way that would be acceptable to all major interests. The arbitrary division line problem is routinely encountered in those city council areas which have no rural elements or natural divides.
Proposed boundary changes
The 2011 Act specified that the Isle of Wight should comprise two separate seats. The Boundary Commission for England submitted its final proposals in respect of the 2018 Review in September 2018. These specified that the island be divided into East and West seats, with Newport being included in the West seat. Although the proposals were laid before Parliament they were not brought forward by the Government for approval. Accordingly, they did not come into effect for the 2019 election which took place on 12 December.
On 24 March 2020, the Minister of State for the Cabinet Office, Chloe Smith, issued a written statement to Parliament setting out the Government's thinking with regard to parliamentary boundaries. It proposes to bring forward legislation to remove the statutory obligation to implement the 2018 Boundary Review, and to set the framework for future reviews in time for the next, which is due to begin in early 2021 and report no later than October 2023. It is proposed that the Isle of Wight once again comprise two seats.
Before the Reform Act 1832 the island usually had three Parliamentary boroughs: Newport, Newtown, and Yarmouth each electing two MPs. In 1654 a whole island constituency existed for the First Protectorate Parliament but the island reverted to the three constituencies. Otherwise, the island was part-represented by the two MPs for Hampshire. The Reform Act abolished Newtown and Yarmouth parliamentary boroughs, and resurrected a county constituency for the whole island. The county electorate included freeholders, qualified by property, in the remaining parliamentary borough. The separate and overlapping Newport representation was abolished in 1885.
The constituency has traditionally been a battleground between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats and their predecessors. The seat was held by a Liberal from 1974 until 1987, a Conservative until 1997, a Liberal Democrat until 2001, and a Conservative since then. At the 2015 election, the incumbent Conservative scored one of his party's largest reductions in vote in that year's election similarly to the Liberal Democrat who finished in fifth place.
In the 2017 general election, Nick Belfitt, the Liberal Democrat candidate, became the youngest ever candidate to stand for the seat at the age of 23.
At the December 2019 general election the Liberal Democrats agreed to stand aside, and support the Green Party candidate as part of an agreement to try to increase the chances of Remain supporting MPs being elected. There are 60 such constituencies in England, and Wales, involving the Unite to Remain alliance between the three parties.
Another general election was required to take place before the end of 1940. The political parties had been making preparations for an election to take place from 1939 and by the end of this year, the following candidates had been selected;
Another General Election was required to take place before the end of 1915. The political parties had been making preparations for an election to take place and by the July 1914, the following candidates had been selected;