Former Conservative MP Chris Skidmore stood down and resigned his seat in the House of Commons in protest at the Offshore Petroleum Bill earlier in January.
This has forced a by-election in his seat of Kingswood, for which, Labour have been installed as heavy betting favourites. We take you through some of the background…
Kingswood will have one last hurrah in a political sense, as the constituency will cease to exist come the next General Election. It has been one of the casualties of the boundary review and Skidmore had already announced that he was stepping down and would not seek re-election, even in another seat. This allowed him some freedom to step down on a matter of principle.
He leaves a majority of over 11,000 for his former party to defend, however the early money and logic says that this looks highly unlikely.
The date for the by-election has been set as Thursday 15 February, which will be the same day as the constituents of Wellingborough go to the polls to replace Peter Bone. All the betting indicators suggest that this should be a double-whammy and Labour are set to take both seats from the Conservatives.
In recent months and even the past couple of years, we have seen time and again, big Conservative majorities dissipate as Labour and the Liberal Democrats have picked off seats. The only successful defence for the Tories was in Boris Johnson’s old seat, where the ultra-local ULEZ issue saw the party hold off what was expected to be a comfortable win for Labour.
Even now, the best parts of eight-years on, when looking at constituencies, you need to at least glance at the Brexit vote back in 2016. Here, 57% voted to Leave the European Union but as we’ve seen in similar seats, that doesn’t really matter any more, however it is worthwhile to note.
Labour are an incredibly short 1/12 to overturn that majority and send Damien Egan to the House of Commons, for what could be an extremely short stay. He will contest the Bristol North East seat in the next General Election, which is where around a third of this constituency will be absorbed into with the boundary changes, making him a very logical candidate for the by-election.
Egan grew up locally and was a parish councillor in Bristol in his early years before departing for the Big Smoke and subsequently having a political career that led him to becoming the Mayor of Lewisham.
His primary opponent will be Sam Bromiley, who will look to keep the seat in Tory hands for the final few months of its existence. He currently is the leader of the Conservative Group on South Gloucestershire Council and has been a lifelong resident of Kingswood.
Clearly one of his strategies will be to lean in heavily on the fact he’s resided in the constituency his whole life, whereas the Labour candidate grew up there but has spent the vast majority of his adult years based in London.
The whole ‘local candidate’ thing used to be quite important but these days, not many people look beyond what colour the rosette is. You can back him however at 8/1 to be victorious.
Reform UK are having a crack at the seat with former Southampton Chairman Rupert Lowe selected as their candidate. He won’t win (or come remotely close) but seeing what percentage of the vote the party gets will be very interesting and could shape the narrative heading into the General Election. If they can get double-digits then the party can really expect to hurt the Tories in a variety of seats up and down the country later in the year.
The Liberal Democrats, Greens and UKIP have all announced candidates but they are all in a race to finish third at best and in all likelihood, fourth behind Reform UK.
You can check out all the latest Politics Betting articles here at Betfred Insights on our Politics hub...