Following the forthcoming resignation of Jamie Reed from the Commons, there’ll be a by-election coming soon in the Copeland constituency. As someone who regularly visits the Lake District I was curious about what the full boundaries of the constituency were, both to scope out the potential for
an excuse for a quick holiday campaigning hard in the by-election and to work out what would be the highest represented point in England in the period when Copeland, which includes Scafell Pike, has no MP. The answer to that is the summit of Helvellyn, which forms part of the boundary between Copeland and Penrith and the Border (represented by Rory Stewart).
I discovered something interesting while looking at that border – when I went up Helvellyn a couple of years ago, it seems the route we took up (following the stream from Dunmail Raise to Grisedale Taren, then over Dollywagon Pike and Nethermost Pike) first followed the boundary between Copeland and Westmorland and Lonsdale, then the boundary between Copeland and Penrith and the Border, which means that around where the two pictures above were taken was the tripoint where all three constituencies meet. The first picture is the view down the stream towards Dunmail Raise, so the left hand side of it is the Liberal Democrat gold of Tim Farron’s Westmorland and Lonsdale, while the right is the bright Labour red of Copeland. The second is Grisedale Tarn, in the true blue lands of Penrith and the Border.
But that got me thinking: while there are obviously plenty of tripoints where constituencies meet (and I’m sure someone will tell me if there’s a quadpoint anywhere in Britain), how many of them are places represented by three different parties like this one. From what I can work out (and I’m open to corrections) this is what I found:
Scotland: none. Despite having four parties holding seats, the three non-SNP seats don’t border on each other and even when Dumfries and Galloway touches a non-SNP seat at the border, it’s also Conservative-held (Penrith and the Border).
Northern Ireland: Eight of them, helped by having several parties in Parliament. I’m also not sure if there’s a quadpoint in the centre of Belfast, which would have been four-party between 2010 and 2015 but is only three party now.
UPDATE: Thanks to Nicholas Whyte for clarification that Belfast has two tripoints rather than one quadpoint:
Great stuff, @nickjbarlow. In Belfast, N S & W seats meet at Bridge St/High St jn, N S & E on Queen's Bridge 500 m away.
— Nicholas Whyte (@nwbrux) December 22, 2016
Wales: Seven seats, all involving Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives.
England: Despite having a lot more seats than the other three nations, there are only eleven in England, because so many seats are held by the Tories and Labour. Two of the seats held by other parties (Norfolk North and Clacton) are wholly surrounded by Tory seats.
So there we are. Twenty-six tripoints in total, which means I have another twenty-five to visit if I want to complete the set, though not quite sure how to visit the two Richmond Park ones, which are in the middle of the Thames.
Update (February 2017): The tripoint that inspired this post no longer exists following the Copeland by-election, but a new one has been (re)born to replace it.