South West England is one of nine official regions of England. It is made up of the counties of Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly, Devon (including Plymouth and Torbay), Somerset, Gloucestershire, Dorset and Wiltshire as well as the area known as the West of England (Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset). Since 2004, the constituency has included the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. The constituency was formed as a result of the European Parliamentary Elections Act 1999.
The South West of England is the largest such region, covering 9,200 square miles (23,800 km2). The South West is represented by six Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). Molly Scott Cato was the first ever Green to be elected as an MEP for the region. The South West also has two UKIP, two Conservative and one Labour MEPs.
Members of the European Parliament in the UK are elected using the d’Hondt system. This is a system of proportional representation where political parties put forward a list of candidates. The number of MEPs elected from each party list is proportional to the number of votes each list receives. More on the voting system for European elections.
A few key facts from the Office of National Statistics:
- The region has by far the longest coastline in England
- More than a quarter of the land lies within National Parks or Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- The region is home to two National Parks – Dartmoor and Exmoor – and four World Heritage sites including Stonehenge and the Jurassic Coast
- More people live in villages, hamlets and isolated dwellings than in any other English region – almost one in five of the region’s total population
- The region has the highest proportion of people of state pension age
- There are more second homes in the South West than in any other English region
- The South West has among the highest proportions of self-employed workers, part-time workers and people with more than one job
- The region has the largest hotels and restaurants sector in the UK, in terms of employment and receives more domestic tourists than any other UK region
- The South West has the highest life expectancy for females and the second highest for males of any region in England.