Keir Starmer makes £50 bet that Lee Anderson will lose his seat at the election

Labour leader puts down wager a week after Lee Anderson defects to Reform UK

Matt Mathers
Thursday 21 March 2024 17:33 GMT
Lee Anderson becomes first Reform MP after defecting from Tories

Sir Keir Starmer has taken a £50 bet that former Conservative Party deputy chair Lee Anderson will lose his seat at the general election.

The Labour leader put down the wager after being asked by a journalist if he thought Mr Anderson would hang on to his constituency at the next national poll.

“No I don’t,” Sir Keir told the Mirror journalist and a group of other employees at the paper when he visited its newsroom earlier this week.

“Bet on it?” the journalist then asks before the Labour accepts with a handshake, a video clip of the exchange shows.

“Although Jonathan Ashworth just lost a tenner didn’t he recently,” Sir Keir then said in a light-hearted quip referencing a colleague who recently lost money on a bet.

Mr Ashworth, the shadow paymaster general, earlier this month made a bet live on TV that Rishi Sunak would call a general election on 2 May but the prime minister has since ruled out a snap spring poll.

Mr Anderson, the MP for Ashfield, recently defected from the Tories to the Nigel Farage-founded Reform UK party after he was suspended for making Islamophobic remarks about Labour’s Sadiq Khan, the London mayor.

A former miner, Mr Anderson represents Ashfield, Nottinghamshire,  located in the ‘red wall’ - a traditionally working class,  Labour-supporting set of around 40 seats mostly in the north and Midlands.

Lee Anderson announcing his defection from Conservatives to Reform UK (AFP via Getty Images)

The constituencies were key to Boris Johnson’s landslide victory in 2019 and analysts say the Conservatives will have to hold on to most of them to have any chance of winning a majority at the next election, which must take place by January 2025 at the latest.

Redfield & Wilton Strategies latest polling on the Red Wall, from 20 March, found that Labour was leading the Conservatives by 24 per cent -  unchanged from its previous poll conducted last month and the joint-largest lead for Labour in these seats since late August.

It was the Tories’ lowest vote share since Mr Sunak became PM and only three points above the lowest vote share (21 per cent) they have ever recorded in Redfield & Wilton Strategies red wall polling.

The survey also showed that Mr Sunak’s approval rating was -25 per cent while Sir Keir’s popularity stood at -1 per cent.

Mr Anderson became Reform UK’s only MP when he defected to the party, telling a press conference to announce the move “I just want my country back”.

Redfield & Wilton Strategies March poll had Reform on 16 per cent - a record high and up two points from February.

Some 21 per cent of 2019 Conservative voters said they would vote for Reform UK if a general election were held tomorrow.

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