DevComms senior account manager, Oliver Sargent, looks at the future prospects for the MP for Uxbridge, Boris Johnson.
Is time up for Boris Johnson in West London?
Since his controversial resignation as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has been trying to remain relevant, often seen trying to up-stage Rishi Sunak in his pursuit to do so. This was evident in his impromptu trips to Ukraine and recent comments that he finds it difficult to vote for Rishi Sunak’s new Brexit deal for Northern Ireland. While it’s still unclear if Boris Johnson is considering a return to the top job in UK politics, he may need to or may already be considering not standing for re-election in West London.
Rumours have been circulating since last year that Boris Johnson might be considering moving to a safer seat. Although, whilst Rishi Sunak recently commented that Boris would be standing again in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, a new report might suggest otherwise. Boris was spotted looking at schools and house-hunting in Oxfordshire, prompting speculation that he’s considering running for his former seat of Henley in the next election.
On the surface, Boris Johnson shouldn’t lose his seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip, which has been held by the Conservative party since its creation in 2010 and represented by Boris since 2015. However, even after gaining a 7,210 majority in the 2019 election, Labour believes it could win the constituency, and if Johnson loses, it would almost certainly end his hopes of another run at the Conservative leadership.
Labour’s belief that they may win the seat against Boris is not unfounded. In the local elections in London last year, there was a substantial swing towards Labour. Additionally, recent polls show Labour winning the seat if an election were held right now.
The fact that Labour is taking their challenge for the seat seriously is evident in their selection of Danny Beales, a more centrist Labour member who is regarded as a loyalist to Keir Starmer. His selection was criticised as a “stitch-up” by those on the left of the party, but Beales could now become a real option for constituents who are wavering over backing Boris again.
National politics will ultimately play a role, with the rise in popularity of Labour and the increasing unpopularity of the Conservatives. According to Electoral Calculus, Uxbridge is the Conservatives’ 103rd most vulnerable seat, and if an election were held today, Labour’s chances of beating Johnson stand at 92%.
Boris Johnson’s clear concern about recent polling and statistics is evident in his increased visits to his constituency and his activity on social media, which is in stark contrast to his behaviour before and during his premiership. This may be in response to accusations by Danny Beales that Boris is a “part-time MP” whose interests lie on the global stage rather than locally. This is sure to be part of Labour’s messaging ahead of the next election.
If Danny Beales were able to make up a swing of 7.48% and defeat Boris Johnson, it would be one of the biggest upsets in British politics. Boris’ clear concern for his chances is evident, and Labour is quietly confident of beating him. If I were advising the former Prime Minister, I would suggest he consider looking for a safer seat to ensure he remains one of the 650 MPs sitting in the House of Commons after the next general election.
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