Rishi Sunak could hold all three by-election polls on same day
Rishi Sunak faces battle to hold Conservatives together as all eyes turn on by-election battlegrounds after Boris Johnson’s resignation – as Prime Minister considers holding all three polls on the same day in challenge to Labour
- Boris Johnson’s resignation as MP launched a by-election for his Uxbridge seat
- Also includes Nadine Dorries Bedfordshire seat and Nigel Adams’ Selby seat
Rishi Sunak faces a month-long battle to hold his party together in the wake of Boris Johnson’s resignation as an MP.
The Prime Minister could on Monday fire the starting gun on three by-election contests that could define his premiership.
Tonight, Commons sources said they expected the by-election writ for Mr Johnson’s former Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat to be moved as early as Monday.
But there are also suggestions that the Conservatives could ‘steal a march’ on Labour by launching the campaign for all three Tory-held seats now up for grabs.
As well as Mr Johnson’s seat, that includes the Mid-Bedfordshire constituency being given up by Nadine Dorries and fellow Boris loyalist Nigel Adams’s Selby and Ainsty seat in Yorkshire.
The Prime Minister could tomorrow fire the starting gun on three by-election contests that could define his premiership
By Commons convention, it is the party that holds a vacant seat that formally moves the writ that starts a by-election. The polls are normally held between 21 and 27 working days after the writ – suggesting the earliest date for the contests would be July 13.
The Prime Minister and advisers are expected to make a final decision on the by-election tomorrow.
But tonight, one senior Tory MP privately predicted that the PM will want to ‘stretch’ Labour and Liberal resources by holding all three on the same day and getting them done before the Commons’ summer recess.
However, there are also fears of an undeclared ‘Lib-Lab’ pact that allows Sir Keir Starmer’s party to concentrate on winning Uxbridge and South Ruislip in London – where Mr Johnson had a slim 7,210 majority – and leaves the Lib Dems to focus on the ‘more rural’ target of Mid-Bedfordshire.
Ms Dorries built up a sizeable majority of 24,664 at the 2019 Election.
In data released before Mr Adams quit in Selby, pollster Savanta had Labour well ahead in Mr Johnson’s old seat.
It also suggested Labour was on course to win narrowly in Mid-Bedfordshire.
As well as Mr Johnson’s seat, that includes the Mid-Bedfordshire constituency being given up by Nadine Dorries (pictured) and fellow Boris loyalist Nigel Adams’s Selby and Ainsty seat in Yorkshire
However, the pollsters conceded that Ms Dorries’s old seat was in reality more likely to be a Lib-Dem target.
That would be borne out by what happened in the 2021 by-election in the supposedly ultra-safe North Shropshire seat, triggered by the sleaze-related resignation of Tory ex-Cabinet Minister Owen Paterson.
There, the Lib Dems stormed to victory with a massive 34 per cent swing from the Conservatives despite only coming third in the seat at the 2019 Election.
Tonight, a Labour spokesman insisted the party was campaigning to win in all three seats.
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