Testing times for Tories in byelections offer opportunities for opposition

Labour and Lib Dems are targeting the seats – and results could reveal how low Conservative popularity has sunk

With signs that the Tory poll ratings are taking another hit after Boris Johnson’s resignation and the growing mortgage costs crisis, Rishi Sunak now faces a series of byelections he could do without. They also hand Labour the chance to prove it is mounting a serious challenge.

Selby and Ainsty
Held by: Conservatives
Majority: 20,137
The resignation of Nigel Adams, an ultra-loyal Boris Johnson ally, means a new MP for the North Yorkshire seat. It would be a very safe constituency in normal times, but with the Tories sinking in the polls, there will be nervousness in CCHQ. Labour see the seat as an outside bet, though a split progressive vote with the Lib Dems may help the Tories hold on.

Uxbridge and South Ruislip
Held by: Conservatives
Majority: 7,210
Boris Johnson’s shock resignation, announced before he faced being forced out after his suspension from the Commons over his Partygate claims, means his seat has become a major target for Labour, which is going all out to seize the constituency. Anything other than a Labour win would be a big surprise, as the seat had already become a marginal.

Somerton and Frome
Held by: Conservatives
Majority: 19,213
Despite the big Tory majority, the Somerset seat has all the hallmarks of a Lib Dem byelection triumph similar to those it achieved during Johnson’s premiership. However, the party will have to overcome a disastrous interview by its candidate Sarah Dykes, who appeared to have a crisis of confidence when asked a basic question about the constituency’s characteristics.

Mid Bedfordshire
Held by: Conservatives
Majority: 24,664
One of the safest Tory seats has become an unlikely target for the Lib Dems, though Labour also states it will fight hard here. There’s only one issue: Nadine Dorries, another Johnson ally, has announced she is resigning but has yet to actually trigger the formal process. It means there is no date for the byelection - or even final confirmation it will happen.

Rutherglen and Hamilton West
Held by: SNP
Majority: 5,230
While a byelection has not yet been formally called, it is extremely likely after current MP Margaret Ferrier was suspended from the Commons over a breach of Covid rules. A recall petition is currently being carried out, which is likely to trigger a search for a new MP. It presents Labour with a perfect chance to show it is making progress in Scotland.


Michael Savage

The GuardianTramp

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