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2017 General Election: the ten ‘Portillo moments’ to watch out for

7 June 2017

11:50 PM

7 June 2017

11:50 PM

Just as in 2015, this election promises to be a tough fight for some of the biggest names. Depending on which pollsters you believe, Labour are either in for a drubbing or their best performance since 2001. The Lib Dems could be about to face annihilation. Even Conservative cabinet ministers are vulnerable in several key marginals. But as before, the most exciting battleground is likely to be in Scotland, where the SNP are retreating from the phenomenal high they achieved two years ago. Listed below are ten of the most significant potential upsets to watch out for after the polls close.

Angus Robertson in Moray

Expected declaration time: 3:00am
Region: Scotland
Majority: 9,065
2015 result: SNP 50% Con 31%, Lab 10%, Ukip 4%, Lib Dem 3%, Green 3%,
Leave vote: 49.9%

Why to watch: As the SNP group leader in the House of Commons, Angus Robertson has become a familiar face at Prime Minister’s Questions, where he has earned considerable praise for his attacks on the Cameron and May governments. Robertson has held Moray since 2001, and it has been one of the few seats to consistently return an SNP candidate since the late 1980s. However, Moray voted fairly decisively against independence in 2014 (57.5%), and the Conservatives feel like the seat may be back in play once again. Also working in the their favour is the Leave vote, the highest of any Scottish council area at 49.9%. Several Scottish opinion polls have suggested that Moray will fall and the Conservatives are throwing the kitchen sink at it. If Robertson is ousted, then there will be some pretty enormous grins at CCHQ on June 9th.

Clive Lewis in Norwich South

Expected declaration time: 4:00am
Region: East of England
Majority: 7,654
2015 result: Lab 39%, Con 24%, Green 14%, Lib Dem 14%, Ukip 9%,
Leave vote estimate: 42.3%

Why to watch: Once Labour’s Shadow Defence Secretary, Lewis is probably best known for his high profile resignation after Jeremy Corbyn whipped the party to vote to trigger Article 50. Some have viewed Lewis as a potential Labour leader in the event that Corbyn stands down after a defeat. Lewis is likely to hold on in a staunch Remain city. However, Norwich South has been on the Green party’s target list for some time. If the Green party does well here at Lewis’ expense, and the Conservatives hoover up the UKIP vote, Lewis might find himself in for a very tight race.

David Mundell in Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale

Expected declaration time: 3:30am
Region: Scotland
Majority: 798
2015 result: Con 40%, SNP 38%, Lab 15%, Ukip 3%, Lib Dem 3%, Green 2%,
Leave vote estimate: 43.9%

Why to watch: Secretary of State for Scotland David Mundell has been the Scottish Tories’ only MP since 2005. He weathered the SNP surge of 2015 that carried the Labour party before it, but even so, Mundell defends a majority of just under 800 votes, making this constituency the SNP’s top target at this election. The defeat of Mundell would not only would deliver a symbolic blow to Westminster, but in practical terms it would also mean that the next Secretary of State would represent a seat outside Scotland, if Ruth Davison does not manage to make gains elsewhere. That scenario would probably be the Conservative’s worst nightmare, as it would signal that the United Kingdom might soon be coming to an end.

Dennis Skinner in Bolsover

Expected declaration time: 4:00am
Region: East Midlands
Majority: 11,778
2015 result: Lab 51%, Con 24%, Ukip 21%, Lib Dem 3%
Leave vote: 57.7%

Why to watch: Is the Beast of Bolsover’s time as an MP finally up? Given that Dennis Skinner has been the MP for Bolsover since 1970, it’s safe to say it’s widely regarded as a safe seat. But rumours are swirling that the Tories think they could take it. His majority has decreased over the years and the Conservatives think that the collapse of the Ukip vote could work in their favour – and push Skinner out.

Alex Salmond in Gordon

Expected declaration time: 4:00am
Region: Scotland
Majority: 8,687
2015 result: SNP 48%, Lib Dem 33%, Con 12%, Lab 6%, Ukip 2%
Leave vote estimate: 45.5%

Why to watch: The former First Minister of Scotland and scourge of the union, Alex Salmond is still probably the favourite to retain the Gordon constituency at this election. However, Gordon is at the heart of a council area which strongly rejected independence in 2014. Whether he can be ousted depends on the capacity of the unionists to back one candidate. Though the Scottish Tories appear to have the momentum, the Lib Dems finished in second place in 2015 and that creates something of a dilemma for those who want to wipe the smile off Salmond’s face. But if a political earthquake does occur, then Scottish politics could look very different when the country wakes up on June 9th.

Zac Goldsmith in Richmond Park

Expected declaration time: 4:00am
Region: London
Majority: 1,872 (Sarah Olney, 2016 by-election)
2015 result: Con 58%, Lib Dem 19%, Lab 12%, Green 6%, Ukip 4%,
Leave vote estimate: 23.4%

Why to watch: Could this be third election in a row that Goldsmith will lose? The former MP for Richmond Park managed a truly impressive nosedive in 2016, first managing to lose the London mayoralty after a campaign that was widely derided, and then losing his seat by triggering a by-election over his opposition to Heathrow. Goldsmith might still be nursing his wounds, but he is back as the Conservative candidate in Richmond Park despite running as an independent against the Lib Dem’s Sarah Olney in December. A Goldsmith victory is not a certainty in a seat that voted overwhelmingly for Remain, and losing this time would surely spell the end of his political career.

Tim Farron in Westmorland and Lonsdale

Expected declaration time: 3:00am
Region: North West
Majority: 8,949
2015 result: Lib Dem 52%, Con 33%, Ukip 6%, Lab 5%, Green 4%,
Leave vote estimate: 48%

Why to watch: Although Tim Farron has been vocal in calling for Theresa May to hold a snap election, he may well live to regret it, as there have been whispers that he could lose his own seat to the Conservatives. Farron has proved himself as a highly effective campaigner over the years, and the Lib Dems are still in control of the South Lakeland district council despite the punishing years of the coalition. South Lakeland was also notable for voting Remain in a region otherwise dominated by Leave. But Farron can take nothing for granted. The Lib Dems are not having as good a campaign as they hoped. If he loses his own seat, then the party might be spent as a political force for good.

Nick Clegg in Sheffield Hallam

Expected declaration time: 4:30am
Region: Yorkshire and the Humber
Majority: 2,353
2015 result: Lib Dem 40%, Lab 36%, Con 14%, Ukip 6%, Green 3%,
Leave vote estimate: 34.7%

Why to watch: Clegg was thought to be in trouble here in 2015, when a strong Labour challenge nearly resulted in them taking Hallam for the first time in the seat’s history. It is probable that Clegg was saved by the collapse in the Tory vote transferring over to him. But he can’t rely on that happening again, especially in a university seat at a time when Labour is promising to scrap tuition fees. Clegg is renowned as a good debater and media performer, but the failure of the Lib Dem campaign to take off may see the one time Deputy Prime Minister reconsider his enthusiasm for an early election. Only time will tell if the voters still agree with Nick.

Jack Dromey in Birmingham Erdington

Expected declaration time: 4:30am
Region: West Midlands
Majority: 5,129
2015 result: Lab 46%, Con 31%, Ukip 17%, Lib Dem 3%, Green 3%,
Leave vote: 62.9%

Why to watch: If Jeremy Corbyn is to win, or even to have a chance of delivering a hung Parliament, then the Labour vote must hold up in Brexit voting seats in the Midlands and the North. Erdington, famously the home of Theresa May’s trusted chief of staff Nick Timothy, is one such seat. Currently held by Jack Dromey, the Labour Party Treasurer and husband of Harriet Harman, Erdington is not traditionally favourable territory for the Conservatives But recent elections and the referendum have made the seat a much more realistic target. A Conservative victory here will suggest that voters are not prepared to reward the moderate MPs who have criticized Corbyn in the hope of keeping their place in the Commons. YouGov suggests that Dromey will hold his seat comfortably, but he would be wise to treat those polls with healthy skepticism if he wants to play a significant role in the future of the Labour party after the 8th of June.

Amber Rudd in Hastings and Rye

Expected declaration time: 2:00am
Region: South East England
Majority: 4,796
2015 result: Con 45%, Lab 35%, Ukip 13%, Green 4%, Lib Dem 3%
Leave vote estimate: 57%

Why to watch: One of Theresa May’s most trusted allies, if Rudd were to lose her seat it would be a big upset – but it’s not impossible. Although Rudd defied the opinion polls in 2015, she won her seat with a majority of less than 5,000 over her Labour rival. This time around, she is facing the Peter Chowney, leader of the Labour controlled council, and Labour are optimistic about their chances. Additionally, as part of a ‘progressive alliance’, the Green party is not fielding a candidate here and is throwing their weight behind Labour. However, the way in which the Ukip vote breaks will be more decisive. The Home Secretary will have to hope that these voters are willing to forgive her prominent role in the Remain campaign if she is to win again.

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