Boris Johnson braces for crunch Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election result tonight as Tories try to protect 19,000 vote majority following death of James Brokenshire and Labour hopes Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet reshuffle has boosted chances of an upset
- Voters are going to the polls today in the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election
- The by-election was called following the death of Tory MP James Brokenshire
- The Tories are defending a majority of almost 19,000 votes over Labour
Voters are going to the polls in the Old Bexley and Sidcup by-election today as the Tories try to defend a 19,000 vote majority while Labour is hoping for an upset.
The by-election, called following the death of Tory MP and former Cabinet minister James Brokenshire in October, is taking place following a turbulent period for the Government which has been rocked by sleaze allegations.
Boris Johnson will be bracing for the result, expected in the early hours of tomorrow morning, as Tory sources believe they will hold the seat but with a smaller vote share.
Labour is hoping Sir Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet reshuffle earlier this week could boost the party’s chances of an unlikely victory.
The constituency has been held by the Conservatives since its inception in 1983, and also in its various guises since the 1950s.
The by-election is being contested by Louie French for the Tories and Daniel Francis for Labour, as well as Simone Reynolds for the Lib Dems, Jonathan Rooks for the Greens, and Richard Tice for the Reform Party.
Boris Johnson will be bracing for the result, expected in the early hours of tomorrow morning, as Tory sources believe they will hold the seat but with a smaller vote share
Labour is hoping Sir Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet reshuffle earlier this week could boost the party’s chances of an unlikely victory
Should the Tories hold the seat but with a much smaller majority it will likely spark questions about Mr Johnson’s leadership after weeks of turmoil.
Chief Whip Mark Spencer reportedly told Tory MPs on Tuesday night to take part in a ‘dawn raid’ on the constituency to boost support and get out the vote.
Tory sources fear voter apathy could see the party’s majority shrink, with one telling The Telegraph: ‘There is no love for Labour… we have seen no switchers to Labour at all.’
Labour candidate Mr Francis told the newspaper that he believed the shadow cabinet reshuffle had provided a boost.
He suggested Yvette Cooper’s return to the Labour frontbench as shadow home secretary had cut through with voters.
He said: ‘There are people citing that and talking about the reshuffle, and certainly in the case of the shadow home secretary, that’s an example of somebody who is back in a high profile post.’
Conservative MP Mr Brokenshire, 53, died from lung cancer in October, with tributes paid from across the political spectrum.
He represented Old Bexley and Sidcup from 2010, having been initially elected as the MP for Hornchurch in 2005.
Mr French, a Tory councillor of eight years, served as deputy leader of Bexley council from 2018 to 2021 and following his selection, he said: ‘James Brokenshire was a friend and mentor to me and it’s an honour to have been selected as the Conservative candidate for Old Bexley and Sidcup, where I hope to carry on his excellent work.
‘I will campaign to ensure that outer London areas like Old Bexley and Sidcup are not forgotten or left behind by the mayor of London and City Hall.
‘And I will work to improve access to GPs and healthcare services, building directly on James’ work with Queen Mary’s Hospital, so residents can get a face-to-face GP appointment at a time that suits them.’
Mr Francis is also a councillor and formerly led the Labour group on Bexley council.
In a message on Twitter, he said he had lived in the area for 20 years and vowed to work ‘tirelessly’ for the community if elected.
On the Labour Party website, he wrote: ‘I will make sure our communities are safer by reducing speeding on our main roads, tackling anti-social behaviour and putting more police on our streets.
‘I will revitalise our high streets by standing up to Conservatives cuts and supporting Labour’s call to scrap business rates.
‘And I will push for the increase in investment our area needs, at every level of government.
‘So on December 2, let’s use this one-off opportunity to send the Conservatives a message. Let’s tell them we’ll no longer be taken for granted.’
The by-election is being contested by Louie French for the Tories (pictured today) and Daniel Francis for Labour, as well as Simone Reynolds for the Lib Dems, Jonathan Rooks for the Greens, and Richard Tice for the Reform Party.
Mr Tice, who is former chairman of the Brexit Party, announced his candidacy in a bid to send Mr Johnson a ‘powerful message’ about the impact of his Government’s policies after the Conservative administration raised the tax burden to the highest level since the 1950s.
The leader of the Reform Party – formerly known as the Brexit Party – said he would be standing on a ticket of low taxes and pledged to campaign for a referendum on the target of achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Other candidates competing for the seat include Elaine Cheeseman for the English Democrats, Richard Hewison for Rejoin EU, David Kurten for the Heritage Party, John Poynton for Ukip, Carol Valinejad for the Christian Peoples Alliance, and Mad Mike Young for the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.
The Conservatives will face a second by-election later this month in North Shropshire following the resignation of Owen Paterson.
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