The Race To The Bottom: Who will win the by-elections?

Selby and Ainsty in North Yorkshire, Somerton and Frome in Somerset, and former PM Boris Johnson's Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat in west London are all being contested

Sunak braces for triple by-election blow

Votes are being counted in three by-elections that were triggered by the resignation of sitting Conservative MPs. The seats for grabs include Selby and Ainsty in North Yorkshire, Somerton and Frome in Somerset, and former PM Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip in west London.

The Conservatives hold majorities of around 20,000 in Selby and Ainsty and Somerton and Frome – but a smaller majority in Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

This leaves Rishi Sunak bracing himself for a possible triple by-election blow, a crucial test of his leadership, as polls close and ballots are counted in these hotly contested races.

For the Conservatives, losing all three constituencies at stake would be nothing short of disastrous, an unprecedented setback not seen in over half a century.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak acknowledges the tough battle ahead, especially in his former boss’s constituency, but allies claim their sights remain firmly set on next year’s general election. Many Conservative MPs point fingers at the lingering effects of Johnson’s behaviour as a factor contributing to likely losses.

However, the public’s perception tells a different story, as they attribute the falling popularity to a plethora of issues. From the failure to address the escalating cost of living crisis and the entrenched corruption in Westminster to the tumultuous years of dealing with the diabolical impact of the pandemic and the blatant pilfering of public monies, it is evident that the electorate is well aware of the underlying factors influencing their voting decisions and why the Tories deserve their losses.

On the other side of the aisle, Labour sees an opportunity to gain momentum, particularly in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat vacated by Johnson and the Selby and Ainsty constituency formerly held by his ally Nigel Adams. If Labour manage to secure victory in these contests, Sir Keir Starmer will undoubtedly bask in the glory, not of Labour’s triumph, but rather of the Tories’ failures.

Liberal Democrats eye success in Somerton and Frome

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats are eyeing success in Somerton and Frome, Somerset, where former MP David Warburton’s departure amidst allegations of cocaine use and sexual harassment has created an opening.

It’s hours to go until a result is officially declared, but a Lib Dems spokesman has already claimed victory in Somerton and Frome.

“We’ve not just won, but we’ve romped home,” the spokesman said. “The Conservative vote is in freefall.”

Earlier, party leader Sir Ed Davey predicted the party would win big in the seat, which has a Conservative majority of more than 19,000.

We’re not expecting an official result until between 03:00 and 04:00 BST.

Each race carries its own complexities and issues, with candidates jostling for support from the electorate. Sadiq Khan’s contentious decision to extend the low-emission zone for drivers may sway votes in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, and the new “baby of the House,” 25-year-old Keir Mather, stands as a symbol of change in Selby and Ainsty.

For the Tories, holding on to these seats is of paramount importance, particularly given the relatively slim majority Boris Johnson secured in 2019. A Cabinet reshuffle looms on the horizon, with Defence Secretary Ben Wallace already signalling his departure, leaving room for a new appointment.

Labour will be hoping for double-figure swings – Sir John Curtice

Labour will be hoping to see double-figure swings tonight if it is to be confident of a convincing victory at the next general election, polling expert Sir John Curtice has said.

Speaking to BBC Newsnight, Curtice, a professor of politics at Strathclyde University, said: “If you look at some of the successes of [former Labour prime minister] Tony Blair before 1997 general election, in by-elections then, there were one or two occasions when the Labour Party managed swings of over 20%.

“So we should certainly be looking for substantial double-figure swings and preferably, from Labour’s point of view, swings closer to 20% than 10%.”

Election swings show the extent of change in voter support for a political party, from one election to the next.

The pressure on Rishi Sunak intensifies, with the potential for internal strife within the party if electoral setbacks lead to upheaval. The delicate balance between refreshing the administration and avoiding perceptions of panic will weigh heavily on Sunak’s decision-making.

As the nation awaits the election results, the stakes are high for all parties involved. The outcome will shape the political landscape, and any unexpected turns could unleash significant repercussions for both the Tories and Labour,

For the Tories there looms the prospect of a civil war, with headhunters eyeing Sunak’s position, adds yet another layer of complexity.

Such internal strife could also spell trouble for Sir Keir Starmer, who has not so much garnered popularity but surfed the wave of dissatisfaction with the current Tory government.

Who needs a resounding Labour victory when you can sit back and watch the Tories stumble? It’s the political equivalent of having your cake and eating it too. While the Tories grapple with their failure to govern, Labour stands to capitalise on the spoils, and Sir Keir Starmer can smugly claim the credit without ever offering a viable alternative.

In the aftermath of these crucial by-elections, the political landscape will undoubtedly witness shifting tides, determining the course of leadership for both major parties. As the votes are counted, the entire nation awaits the outcome, keenly aware of the potential ramifications for the future of British politics and what is no doubt a race to the bottom.

The candidates.

With counting underway to decide who’ll take Boris Johnson’s former seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, let’s remind ourselves of the candidates.

There were a massive 17 people to choose from in this vote – with the list including the likes of Count Binface, who stood against the former prime minister in 2019, and actor-turned GB News presenter Laurence Fox.

Here’s the full rundown:

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