Blue Wall crumbling: Johnson’s Tories could lose up to 16 seats in southern heartlands

Ed Davey knocks down blue wall with yellow mallet

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The poll suggests support for the Conservatives in the so-called Blue Wall has dipped by eight percent since the 2019 general election. YouGov spoke to voters in 53 Remain-voting Conservative constituencies which have a disproportionately high level of degree-educated residents.

Voters in these seats remain convinced Brexit was not the right decision for the UK, with 52 percent saying it was wrong.

While support for Boris Johnson’s party fell from 52 to 44 percent, Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party has seen a four point boost and now sits on 24 percent.

According to current voting intention, Labour would gain nine Blue Wall seats and even topple some big wigs in the Tory Party.

The ex-Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith from Chingford and Woodford Green and Wycombe’s Steve Baker, who formerly served as a Brexit minister, could be among the main Conservative casualties.

Other Tory seats YouGov predict Labour could gain include: Chipping Barnet, Filton & Bradley Stoke, Hendon, Kensington, Milton Keynes North, Stroud, and Truro & Falmouth.

Despite the Liberal Democrats’ shock victory in the Chesham and Amersham by-election, the poll found Sir Ed Davey’s “strong orange force” might not be as significant as the party had hoped.

In 2019, the Liberal Democrats finished second across the Blue Wall seats but the poll shows a “surprising” six point drop for the party, as they now find themselves on just 18 percent.

However, the poll suggests Davey could still improve on predecessor Jo Swinson’s performance in the 2019 Brexit election with Cheltenham, Wimbledon and Winchester predicted to turn orange.

The Liberal Democrats could also benefit, just as they did in Chesham and Amersham, from disapproval with the Government’s decision to push ahead with HS2.

YouGov said: “According to our poll, Blue Wall residents are indeed strongly opposed to HS2. While 24 percent of them support the development of the high speed rail line, 46 percent oppose it (another 22 percent neither support nor oppose).”

Four other constituencies, including Dominic Raab’s seat of Esher and Walton, are also said to be on a knife-edge.

However, all is not doom and gloom for the Conservatives.

Matthew Goodwin, Kent University politics professor, suggested this alternative headline to his Twitter followers: “Boris Johnson is on course to win a slightly smaller majority than he did in 2019 by losing a few seats in the south but gaining a few in the north.”

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Research seen by the also suggests Brexit realignment has bolstered support for the party in Leave-voting constituencies in the south of England.

Throughout the Conservative heartlands, identified as seats the Tories clung onto when Tony Blair won his election landslide in 1997, an overwhelming majority of constituencies went on to back Brexit.

Of the 165 seats won by the Conservatives in 1997, a vast majority of which are located below the River Wash to the River Severn, just 51 voted to Remain whereas 114 voted Leave.

And the change in support in the Tory heartlands has been a long-time coming.

When comparing Conservative vote share between 2015 and 2019, support for the Tories has dipped by 3.5 points in Remain-backing seats but gone up by a staggering 8.5 percent in those which voted Leave.

Even in the recent local elections, it was clear the Brexit realignment had taken its toll.

Whereas voters in Brexit-supporting council areas – such as Basildon and Maidstone – flipped to the Conservatives, the party suffered shock net-losses in pro-EU districts, including Tunbridge Wells and Wokingham.

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