Friday, 28 Feb 2020

Thirty seats where Nigel Farage will go head-to-head with Tories

Twenty-nine seats where Nigel Farage will go head-to-head with Tories despite pleas for him to stand aside in Labour Leave-voting marginals

  • Boris Johnson is aiming to lap up crucial Leave-voting constituencies in Labour’s North and Wales heartlands 
  • But the Brexit Party risk splitting the Leave vote, which could pave the way for a Jeremy Corbyn victory 
  • Nigel Farage is refusing to stand down his candidates in seats won by Labour in the 2017 general election
  • Below are the 30 Leave-voting seats which the Conservatives are hoping to clinch from Labour this Christmas

Boris Johnson is hoping next month’s crucial election can give him the mandate he needs to force through his Brexit deal .

But Nigel Farage’s insistence today that he will not stand aside in Leave-voting Labour marginals such as the thirty listed below makes the task more challenging.

The PM faces a huge struggle to secure a Conservative majority, with the country more politically polarised than at any point in the past three decades.

Mr Farage will be hoping to secure a handful of seats and potentially hold the balance of power in Parliament.

Because the Brexit Party is a start-up just months old, there is a shortage of reliable data on how it might perform in different seats.

But most of the thirty seats had a strong UKIP showing in 2017 – even though that party had a different leader then, Paul Nuttall, and a host of different issues connected with it.

Now that nominations have been submitted there is just a month to go to polling day.



Dudley North – Brexit Party candidate has now pulled out

Leave: 71.43%

Labour majority 22

2017 result

Labour: 18,090

Conservative: 18,068

UKIP: 2,144

This West Midlands constituency is one of the most marginal in the country, with a wafer thin majority of just 22 votes. Labour has won the seat in every election since its creation in the 1997 boundary changes. But its most recent MP, Ian Austin, quit the party earlier this year and has urged the electorate to vote Conservative on December 12. The heavily Leave seat was meant to be fought by Brexit Party candidate Rupert Lowe, who is the former chairman of Southampton Football Club, yet he pulled out just before today’s 4pm deadline, leaving the party with no time to replace him.


Leave: 61.64%

Labour majority 30

2017 result

Labour: 21,124

Conservative: 21,094

UKIP: 0 

Although Labour has held this north Staffordshire seat for the past 100 years, in 2017 it was the sixth most marginal in the UK. Paul Farrelly has represented the constituency since 2001, but is stepping down this Christmas. The constituency also includes Keele University – student towns typically deliver a disproportionate youth turnout. However, the timing of the election is likely to fall in the holidays when students return home.

Crewe and Nantwich

Leave: 60.29%

Labour majority 48

2017 result

Labour: 25,928

Conservative: 25,880

UKIP: 1,885

A Conservative-Labour swing seat since 2008, the Cheshire constituency was clinched by Laura Smith from long-standing Tory Edward Timpson in the snap poll two years ago. It was a Labour seat for years under Margaret Thatcher, where its popular MP Gwyneth Dunwoody consistently returned hefty majorities. But since she stepped down, the area – which has a long history of railway engineering – has been up for grabs. 

Barrow and Furness

Leave: 57.28%

Labour majority 209

2017 result

Labour: 22,592

Conservative: 22,383

UKIP: 962

A tiny majority clinched Labour’s John Woodcock the seat in 2017, fending off the Conservatives with barely 200 votes. But the MP, who has represented the Cumbrian constituency since 2010, left the Labour Party this year in protest at Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and urged people to back Boris Johnson. A working-class area with strong rugby league roots, manufacturing is one of the biggest employment sectors in the area. 


Leave: 70.47%

Labour majority 441

2017 result 

Labour: 21,285

Conservative: 20,844

UKIP: 1,885 

Labour squeezed a victory in 2017 after seeing off an 8.9 per cent swing to the Conservatives. But its MP since 2010, Gloria De Piero, is quitting Parliament at the next election, meaning voters will be forced to choose a new representative. The Brexit Party is eyeing up the Nottinghamshire Leave seat and has deployed one of its most high-profile members, Martin Daubney, who was the editor of men’s magizine Loaded and made a Channel 4 documentary about pornography addiction.

Bishop Aukland

Leave: 60.89%

Labour majority 502

2017 result 

Labour: 20,808

Conservative: 20,306


The County Durham market town constituency has both farming and coal mining roots. It has been represented by Labour shadow minister Helen Goodman since 2005 and has never returned a Conservative MP. UKIP did not field a candidate in 2017, but Nigel Farage believes that North East Leave-voting areas such as Bishop Auckland are ripe for Brexit Party picking, and is standing candidate Nick Brown in December.


Leave: 56.52%

Labour majority 836

2017 result 

Labour: 24,235

Conservative: 23,399

Ukip: 1,372

Labour snatched the seat from the Conservatives in 2017, claiming one of the biggest Conservative scalps – cabinet minister Ben Gummer – of the election. But Labour’s Sandy Martin only sneaked in on less than 1,000 votes, making it an uber-marginal in the upcoming ballot. Of the seven constituencies in Suffolk, it is the only one not to be held by the Conservatives, who will be keen to capitalise on the 56 per cent Leave vote in 2016 and win it back. But the Brexit Party are also hoping to make an impact, and are putting up Nicola Thomas.

Stockton South

Leave: 57.76%

Labour majority 888

2017 result 

Labour: 26,102

Conservative: 25,214

UKIP: 1,186

This North East seat has swung back and forth between the Tories and Labour since the 1990s. It is a major bellwether and its MP often reflects the national result. But although it voted Labour under Tony Blair and Conservative under David Cameron, in 2017 it returned Labour’s Paul Williams, who is standing again. The Brexit Party is also standing, and will hope to seize upon the constituency’s 57 per cent Leave vote.


Leave: 62.68%

Labour majority 607

2017 result 

Labour: 22,950

Conservative: 22,343


Labour’s Lisa Forbes has only represented this seat since June in a by-election. The party’s previous MP, Fiona Onasanya, was convicted for perverting the course of justice after lying about speeding. Labour suffered a 17 per cent decrease in their vote share, with the Brexit Party’s Mike Greene storming to second place, less than 1,000 votes behind Ms Forbes. The same slate of candidates from June are standing again in December. The Tories previously held the seat between 2005 and 2017.

Penistone and Stockbridge

Leave: 60.65%

Labour majority 1,322

2017 result 

Labour: 22,807

Conservative: 21,485

UKIP: 3,453

A South Yorkshire seat with a strong mining and steelworks history, the marginal seat has returned a Labour MP since its creation in 2010. But the most recent representative, Angela Smith, was one of the handful of MPs who earlier this year quit the party to form Change UK. She is not standing in this election. The seat is also one of the 60 constituencies in the Remain Alliance, with the Greens standing aside to give the Lib Dems’ Hannah Kitching a clear run.


Leave: 61.01%

Labour majority 3,925

2017 result 

Labour: 21,317

Conservative: 17,392

UKIP: 1,556

‘Workington Man’ is the voter who Mr Johnson needs to win over if he is to get a majority, according to a leading think tank. The 60 per cent Leave area with strong working-class roots is currently held by Labour’s shadow environment secretary Sue Hayman. The Brexit Party are also hoping to attract the Leave working-class vote, but suffered a setback when initial candidate Philip Walling withdrew early in the campaign to support the Conservatives. But former barrister David Walker will now stand in its place.

Warrington South  

Leave: 51.11%

Labour majority 2,549

2017 result 

Labour: 29,994

Conservative: 27,445


Since the 1980s, this Cheshire seat has swung between the Conservatives and Labour, which has won it off the Tories in 2017. In 2016, it only narrowly returned a Leave vote, with the Lib Dems given a clear run as part of the Unite to Remain pact. The Brexit Party is also running in this industrial town, which boasts one of the most high-profile rugby league teams in the country. 

Derby North  

Leave: 54.25%

Labour majority 2,015

2017 result 

Labour: 23,622

Conservative: 21,607

UKIP: 1,181

Labour won this bellwether seat from the Tories in 2015, but their MP Chris Williamson was booted out of the party for anti-Semitism and will contest the 2019 election as an independent. This could split the Labour vote, and pave the way for either Conservative Amanda Solloway – the previous MP – or potentially the Brexit Party, who will be buoyed by the constituency’s 54 per cent Leave vote.


Leave: 62.77%

Labour majority 2,176

2017 result 

Labour: 22,987

Conservative: 20,811


Labour since 1931, the party’s high-profile MP Mary Creagh is looking to fifth successive election. But her pro-Remain position could jar with voters, who heavily backed Leave by 63 per cent in 2016. It is one of the Conservatives’ target seats, but they suffered a knock when their initial candidate Antony Calvert quit on the back of unearthed and inappropriate social media posts. 

Wolverhampton South West

Leave: 54.37%

Labour majority 2,185

2017 result 

Labour: 20,899

Conservative: 18,714

UKIP: 1,012

Enoch Powell’s former constituency, four of the last five MPs since 1997 have been Labour. The Conservatives briefly took it in 2010, but lost in 2015 and 2017. Interestingly, since 2010, the two main parties have increased their vote share year-on-year, as the minor parties’ support collapsed. The area has several pockets of ethnic minority families, who typically vote Labour. But it also returned a 54 per cent Leave vote in 2016.


Leave: 57.57%

Labour majority 1,832

2017 result 

Labour: 17,153

Conservative: 15,321


Represented by Labour since the 1930s – other than a brief window when Tom Ellis defected to the SDP in 1981. Ian Lucas has been the MP since 2001, and increased his vote share at the last election by 11.7 per cent. But the Tories swelled their vote by more than 12 per cent, and will look to carry this momentum forward in December. Curiously, it is not one of the Welsh seats agreed as part of the Remain Alliance, with the Lib Dems, Greens and Plaid Cyrmu all standing, which could lead to a split in the pro-EU vote.

Stoke-on-Trent North

 Leave: 72.12%

Labour majority 2,359

2017 result 

Labour: 21,272

Conservative: 18,913


Although this Staffordshire seat has always been represented by Labour, it is not one of their safe seats. Ruth Smeeth sneaked in on less than 3,000 votes in 2017, and with Brexit front and centre of this current campaign, her Remain credentials could cost in her this staggering 72 per cent Leave constituency. She will also be worries about Conservatives 17 per cent increased vote share at the last election.


Leave: 57.15%

Labour majority 3,321

2017 result

Labour: 28,814

Conservative: 25,493

Ukip: 0

This West Yorkshire constituency was briefly won by the Conservatives in 2010 under the David Cameron surge, but has typically been Labour. In recent years, it has been a two-horse race between Labour and the Tories, who were just 3,000 votes from causing a massive upset in 2017.  The area has a strong Muslim population and in 2005 the far-right British National Party achieved its highest vote share ever of 13 per cent.

Blackpool South

Leave: 67.81%

Labour majority 2,523

2017 result 

Labour: 17,581

Conservative: 15,058

UKIP: 1,339

The North West seaside constituency used to be a Conservative stronghold, but fell to New Labour in Tony Blair’s sweep to power in 1997. Since then, it has been represented by Gordon Marsden who is defending a 2,523 majority. One of the northern Labour Leave seats, it will be high on Nigel Farage’s list of target constituencies.

Great Grimsby

Leave: 71.45%

Labour majority 2,565

2017 result 

Labour: 17,545

Conservative: 14,980

UKIP: 1,648

Labour’s Melanie Onn staved off a 15-point surge by the Conservatives at the last election to retain the seat she has held since 2015. The constituency voted a whopping 71 per cent Leave, and UKIP has previously performed well at the ballot box. In 2017, it was targeted by Mike Hookem MEP, who grabbed headlines after punching a fellow UKIP politician. UKIP has not named a candidate for the December poll, but the Brexit Party will be fielding Christopher Barker.


Leave: 58.1%

Labour majority 3,280

2017 result 

Labour: 22,681

Conservative: 19,401

UKIP: 1,180

In the 1980s, this North East seat was held by former defence secretary Michael Fallon, but since his loss in 1992, it has been a Labour semi-marginal. Jenny Chapman has represented the market town with a strong history of rail engineering since 2010. In 2015, UKIP took 5,000 votes, but this collapsed by 10 per cent in 2017. 

Bolton North East

Leave: 58.11%

Labour majority 3,797

2017 result 

Labour: 22,870

Conservative: 19,073

Ukip: 1,567

In every election since 1997, Labour has pipped the Tories, who increased their vote share by nine per cent in the last election. UKIP has also seen a strong showing, coming third in the last two ballots in this 58 per cent Leave seat. 


Leave: 68.68%

Labour majority 3,431

2017 result 

Labour: 20,916

Conservative: 17,485

UKIP: 1,247

The Humberside seat was historically a safe Labour seat, but has become a marginal in recent elections. Labour’s shadow schools minister Nic Dakin has held it since 2010, increasing his vote share at the last election by 10.3 per cent. But the Conservative candidate also swelled her party’s vote by the same amount. The area is heavily Leave – 68 per cent – and local accountant Jerry Gorman is contesting the seat for the Brexit Party.

Ilford North 

Leave: 53.31%

Labour majority 9,639

2017 result 

Labour: 30,589

Conservative: 20,950


Since its post-war creation in 1945, the Essex constituency has swung between Labour and the Conservatives frequently. Its most recent MP, Labour’s Wes Streeting, won in 2015. At the last election, he increased his vote share by 13 per cent while the Conservative support dipped. But a 53 per cent Leave vote could buoy the Conservatives and Brexit Party candidates in the fight for this commercial and retail hub. 


Leave: 66.61%

Labour majority 6,353

2017 result 

Labour: 18,832

Conservative: 12,479

UKIP: 2,472

The Lancashire seat was until 2015 held by the Liberal Democrats, but their MP fell in the party’s wipe-out on the back of coalition with the Tories. Labour’s Julie Cooper has since represented the 66 per cent Leave constituency. Local business owner Stewart Ian Scott is contesting the seat for the Brexit Party.


Leave: 68.32%

Labour majority 4,852

2017 result 

Labour: 27,467

Conservative: 22,615


Bassetlaw is a form coal mining community which has been represented by Labour since the 1920s. Its most recent MP, John Mann, is stepping down after consistently hammering Jeremy Corbyn over his failure to stamp out anti-Semitism in the party. At the last election, the Conservatives surged by 12 per cent and will hope to carry this momentum into the upcoming Brexit-dominated poll. Yet the Brexit Party is also fielding candidate Debbie Soloman.


Leave: 65.82%

Labour majority 5,815

2017 result 

Labour: 24,120

Conservative: 18,305

UKIP: 1,953

Since the party took the seat in 1992, it has been a relatively safe Labour seat. Graham Jones won a 5,815 majority two years ago, despite a 8 per cent uptick for the Tories in the area. It’s largest town is Accrington, a former textiles hub with a large working-class community.

Walsall South

Leave: 65.82%

Labour majority 8,892

2017 result 

Labour: 25,286

Conservative: 16,394

UKIP: 1,805

Labour since 1974, the seat is in the manufacturing heartlands of the West Midlands. In 2017, Opposition frontbencher Valerie Vaz increased her vote share by 10 per cent, with a majority of 8,892. But the area voted heavily to Leave, by 66 per cent. 

Kingston-Upon-Hull East

Leave: 65.82%

Labour majority 10,396

2017 result 

Labour: 21,355

Conservative: 10,959

UKIP: 2,573

Former Labour deputy leader John Prescott held the seat for 40 years before stepping down in 2010. The constituency has been a historic Labour stronghold which returned a 10,396 majority two years ago.  But its 65 per cent Leave vote in 2016 could trigger an upset this Christmas by causing a surge in the Conservative and Brexit Party vote.


Leave: 67.67%

Labour majority 9,485

2017 result 

Labour: 23,623

Conservative: 14,138

UKIP: 1,950

The Lib Dems were ousted from this North East seat in 2015 following the party’s collapse. Since then it has been held by Labour, who boast a 9,485 majority going into December 12. In 2017, UKIP took almost 2,000 votes, bucking the nationwide trend of decline which has rendered the party irrelevant in current party politics. But the Brexit Party’s emergence could lap up the 67 per cent of people who voted Leave in 2016.

Blyth Valley

Leave: 60.49%

Labour majority: 7,915

2017 result 

Labour: 23,770

Conservative: 15,855


This Northumberland constituency with working-class roots in coal mining, shipbuilding and fishing has always been Labour. But like so many seats in the North East, it voted Leave in the referendum. Jeremy Corbyn’s policy to hold a second vote on EU membership could jeopordise Ronnie Campbell’s 7,915 majority, which he increased in 2017. The Conservatives also bulked its vote share by 15 per cent two years ago.

Heywood & Middleton

Leave: 62.43%

Labour majority: 7,617

2017 result

Labour: 26,578

Conservative: 18,961

UKIP: 3,239

Former Labour Prime Minister James Callaghan represented this Manchester constituency between 1983 and 1997, paving the way for the party to hold the seat ever since. The party has a sizable majority, but the area is highly Eurosceptic. In 2015, UKIP came second with 15,000 votes, giving the Brexit Party hope that the decline of Farage’s old party can help them capitalise on the 62 per cent Leave vote. 


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