Tory ‘Blue Wall’ in south starting to crumble, claim Liberal Democrats

Party seizes St Albans and makes inroads in southern shires

Andrew Woodcock
Political Editor
Sunday 09 May 2021 20:04 BST

After Boris Johnson smashed the traditionally Labour “Red Wall” in the Midlands and north of England, there were claims today that the Conservative “Blue Wall” in the south may be starting to crumble.

Liberal Democrats said they had their eyes on a number of traditionally true blue parliamentary seats after gaining councillors from Tories across the south and east of England.

And in a further sign of shifting electoral patterns, Labour and Greens also picked up handfuls of seats in Conservative heartlands like East and West Sussex, Surrey and Kent.

The results appeared to give some support to theories that Conservatives are losing support in some traditional strongholds, due both to opposition to Brexit in parts of the south and to graduates and young professionals moving into the home counties to escape high property prices in London.

While making no overall gain in councillors across England as a whole, Liberal Democrats were celebrating seizing St Albans city and district council in Hertfordshire and denying Tories control of Cambridgeshire and Tunbridge Wells in Kent.

Ed Davey’s party also unseated the Conservative council leader in Oxfordshire, where Lib Dems came within a whisker of becoming the largest party, gaining eight councillors to trail Tories by 22 seats to 21 in a county with no overall control.

In county councils elections across the south and east, Lib Dems gained six seats in Wiltshire, five in Surrey, five in Hertfordshire,  four in Cambridgeshire, three in Buckinghamshire, three in Devon and two in West Sussex. 

In districts and boroughs, they were up by four councillors in Tunbridge Wells, five in St Albans, three in Wokingham and three in Woking and held councils like Cheltenham, Eastleigh, Mole Valley, Three Rivers and Watford.

Deputy leader and St Albans MP Daisy Cooper said: “The Tory Blue Wall has started crumbling in this election as the Liberal Democrats move forward in Tory former heartlands.

“From Cheltenham to Cambridgeshire, Wiltshire to Woking, nowhere is safe for the Tories in their Blue Wall. The age of no-go areas for the Liberal Democrats in traditionally Tory southern cities towns and villages is over.”

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