Could Sunak’s by-election crisis be even worse than he feared?

Only two weeks remain until a likely triple Tory by-election defeat, says Sean O’Grady

Wednesday 05 July 2023 23:16 BST
Danny Beales is the Labour candidate for the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election
Danny Beales is the Labour candidate for the Uxbridge and South Ruislip by-election (Getty Images)

Just two weeks are left until polling day in three crucial by-elections: Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Selby and Ainsty, and Somerton and Frome. And there are signs of yet more contests to come in what could be a summer that will keep both politicians and psephologists busy. Based on odds and polling, the results may be even bigger bombshells than previously thought.

What’s happening?

On 20 July, the three by-elections will mark the biggest test of public opinion since the local elections in May. It looks like a hat-trick of Tory losses, which they will want to get out of the way well before the party conference in the first week of October. Inevitably, the losses will be seen as an adverse verdict on the lack of progress on Rishi Sunak’s “five priorities”. One key thing to look for is how far the results confirm trends seen in opinion polls and the council elections. The strength of anti-Tory tactical voting will also be closely watched by party managers. Sunak will be hoping it finally marks the electoral nadir of his administration.

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