A dramatic announcement came on Friday evening that Boris Johnson will step down as an MP with immediate effect, bringing an end (for now) to one of the most polarising political careers in modern UK history. Will his party hold on to defend the seat without him in the upcoming by-election? Let’s look at the early odds…

Uxbridge & South Ruislip By-Election Odds:

  • Labour – 1/10
  • Conservatives – 11/2
  • Lib Dems – 25/1
  • Reform UK – 50/1
  • Green Party – 100/1

*odds correct as of 9AM Monday 12 June, 2023

Boris Johnson has decided that he doesn’t want to face the music of the voters of Uxbridge & South Ruislip. Instead of facing a possible recall election should he be suspended from the House of Commons for more than ten days for misleading the investigation into ‘Partygate’ (which seems likely), the former Prime Minister has walked away, meaning a very tricky by-election for his party to navigate.

The Uxbridge & South Ruislip seat has only been in existence for 13 years and has always returned a Conservative to parliament. However it shouldn’t be classed as a safe seat. The Tory majority in 2019 was only 7,210, which was up slightly on the 5,034 he managed to muster in 2017. Back in 2015 though, this seat gave Boris a five-figure lead and that included UKIP syphoning off over 6,000 votes.

So it is clear that Labour are the coming force here and recent national polls have put Sir Keir Starmer’s party well in the lead and this is exactly the type of seat they would need to win back if they are on course to form the next government.

Recent polling by Lord Ashcroft has the Conservatives very much on pace to hold on to the seat. This very much bucks the common notion that this will be a defeat for the party and would be a big feather in the cap of Labour. His data shows that it would be a Tory win with 50% of the vote, very similar to what the last General Election was.

Now this is relevant data and shouldn’t be dismissed but this flies in the face of everything we’ve seen in recent by-elections.

The Tories have been beaten from pillar to post across the country in this parliament when constituencies have been asked to go to the polls to change their MP. After a very nice win over Labour in Hartlepool in the middle of 2021, they have defended six seats and lost four of them. Three times to the Lib Dems overturning insanely big majorities and a loss to Labour in Wakefield. That is the one we should focus on.

The Wakefield by-election took place last June and a solid 3,358 majority was overturned with Labour winning by just under 5,000 votes. This was at a time Starmer’s party were not sky high in the polls and it should also be noted, it was held on the same day as another by-election and that fact should not be overlooked.

With Nadine Dorries having also quit as an MP on Friday (with Migel Adams making it a third on Saturday) it gives Labour and the Lib Dems another chance to focus their resources where they see fit. I fully expect Sir Ed Davey’s lot to be virtually non-existent in Uxbridge & South Ruislip whilst they throw the kitchen sink at Mid Beds and that is likely to be reciprocated by Starmer et al.

Labour are too short at 1/10 to win the seat but it should be an almighty shock if anyone other than Danny Beales, the Labour candidate would emerge as the next MP for the constituency. I’d also be shocked if it was remotely close.

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