Croydon Central MP Gavin Barwell has said his future in Westminster is "beyond my control" as the Boundary Commission prepares to publish its recommendations for changes to Croydon's electoral landscape.

The newly promoted Government minister, who defeated his Labour challenger Sarah Jones by just 165 votes at last May's General Election, admitted his seat may become unwinnable if the constituency's boundaries were extended into Labour heartlands in the north of the borough.

The commission is due to publish its initial recommendations for boundary reform next month, before finalising the changes in summer 2018.

Speaking less than three weeks after his appointments as Minister for Housing and Planning and Minister for London, Mr Barwell said shifting population density meant "the boundaries have to change".

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But he claimed not to be overly concerned about the outcome of the review, adding: "My view of this is: I have enjoyed my time as an MP hugely, and what happens with the boundaries is beyond my control."

The MP, a former Tory councillor for Woodcote and Coulsdon West, also denied rumours he had designs for an immediate return to local politics if ousted from his parliamentary seat.

In February this newspaper revealed Mr Barwell was sounding out support for ditching Croydon Council's "cabinet and leader" system in favour of a directly elected mayor model currently used by four other London boroughs.


Earlier this summer Mr Barwell and Croydon South MP Chris Philp launched a public campaign calling for the switch, which they have claimed could bridge the “stark political divide” between north and south Croydon.

On Friday, speaking at a cafe just yards from his Shirley constituency office, Mr Barwell denied suggestions the campaign had been launched from a place of personal ambition.

He added: "Assuming [the change to a directly elected mayor] happens, and there is an election, I will not be a candidate."

But he added: "I'm not saying I would never be a candidate, ever ever ever, but if there is an election in 2018 for example I will not be a candidate... very clear."

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Over a late breakfast of an omelette and orange juice, Mr Barwell was also at pains to reassure his constituents that representing Croydon Central was still his "first job" despite becoming a Government minister in Theresa May's cabinet reshuffle last month.

He said: "I have got to find a way of doing both. The reality is that being the MP for Croydon Central is my first job, because if I'm not the MP for Croydon Central I'm not going to be a minister.

"It's very important to me that people feel me having this job is good for them."

Mr Barwell said one way of doing that would be to work closely on a "new housing plan for London" with the capital's mayor, Sadiq Khan, to ensure the capital received a fair share of the national housing budget.

Giving further devolved powers over housing policy to the Mayor were an also an option, the new minister said, adding: "With power comes responsibility, so my message to [Mr Khan] would be, you can have this, this and this, but what I need is an assurance this many homes are going to get built.

"I want to have a good relationship with him. We're both south London lads, we're obviously from different political parties so we're not going to agree on everything, but we've known for a while and we've got a good personal relationship.

"[But] I want your readers to be very clear, he's the Mayor of London. My role is to be the interface."

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