New Lib Dem poll suggests potential disaster for Boris Johnson in Tiverton and Honiton

The Liberal Democrats say internal polling has put the party neck and neck with the Conservatives with just two full days of campaigning left before Thursday’s crucial by-election in Tiverton and Honiton.

Ms Hurford is expected to bring more cabinet ministers in to help. But there are no “stars” in the cabinet to call on. They are all lap dogs to “Big Dog”. – Owl

By David Parsley inews.co.uk 

After speaking with 6,000 constituents in the Devon seat over the weekend, pollsters for the Lib Dems put their candidate Richard Foord on 45 per cent of the vote, level with the Tories’ Helen Hurford.

This latest survey of voting intentions suggests the Lib Dems have closed the two-point gap between themselves and the Conservatives that existed at the same point last week.

The poll also puts the Lib Dems ahead of where they were at the same point in the North Shropshire by-election, where they overturned a 23,000 majority to take the seat with a near-6,000 majority of their own.

However, with the Conservatives fighting harder in Tiverton and Honiton than they did in what they considered a safe majority in North Shropshire, Lid Dem insiders remain nervous that their efforts will not be enough to snatch this by-election.

Mr Food said: “This by-election is a very close fight between myself and Boris Johnson’s candidate.”

If accurate, it means the Lib Dems are close to overtuning the 24,239 majority won at the December 2019 general election by former Tory MP Neil Parish – who was forced to resign after he was seen viewing pornography in the House of Commons.

If the Lib Dems do reverse the huge Tory majority, it would be the largest by-election turnaround since Labour won Liverpool Wavertree from the Conservatives in 1935.

In 2019, Mr Parish won 60 per cent of the vote, with Labour second on 19 per cent and the Lib Dems back in third on 15 per cent.

With two by-election victories against the Tories in Chesham and Amersham last June and North Shropshire in December behind them, the Lib Dems are hoping the momentum will continue.

A spokesman for the Lib Dems said: “With just four days to go it’s neck and neck. We’re now level pegging with the Conservatives and it all comes down to these final days.

“Voters are fed up of being taken for granted by the Conservatives and are rallying behind the Liberal Democrats. We are the only party that can beat Boris Johnson’s candidate. We’re fighting hard for every vote and to bring real change to Devon.”

Ms Hurford is trying to persuade many life-long Tory voters, inclined to stay at home rather than vote for a Prime Minister they have lost faith in after his law-breaking in Downing Street during the Covid-19 lockdowns, to back her.

The Conservatives are also losing votes from farmers in this rural constituency following post-Brexit trade deals with Australia and New Zealand, which many claim will undermine them with cheap and lower quality products coming from these countries.

Farmers are also concerned about the loss of funding from Westminster via the Direct Payments system, which is being phased out and replaced by a Environmental Land Management Scheme in 2027.

The Lib Dems are attempting to bring more Labour, Green and undecided Tory voters over to them in order to claim a victory that will heap further pressure on Mr Johnson as he continues to battle to remain the leader of his party and the nation.

Both sides are also calling on activists to make their way to Devon to help in their respective campaigns, as well as sending down big hitters from Westminster.

Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey, who was in the constituency all weekend, is expected to be knocking on more doors around the constituency in the final two days of the campaign, Mr Foord will also be joined by former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, the party’s Treasury spokeswoman Christine Jardine, education spokeswoman Munira Wilson, and chief whip Wendy Chamberlain.

Tory candidate Helen Hurford was campaigning with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss as well as Tory peer and Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes on Saturday, and is expected to bring another batch of Government ministers to the constituency this week.

However, Boris Johnson will steer clear of voters as his the previous safe Tory seat considered to be under threat because of his law-breaking activities in Downing Street during Covid-19 lockdowns.

While Labour’s Ms Pole declined to comment on the Lib Dem poll, she did say she was still fighting for every vote.

She said: “I don’t take any votes for granted, which is why I’m out everyday, across the entire constituency speaking with local people.

“Local people are telling me they’re tired of this Conservative government, the contempt Boris Johnson has shown them and their inability to tackle the cost of living crisis. People are keen for change here in Tiverton and Honiton.”

If the Conservatives lose in Tiverton and Honiton, and in the other by-election on Thursday in the “Red Wall” seat of Wakefield, it is thought backbench Tories may attempt to change party rules to allow another confidence vote in Mr Johnson. Earlier this month, 148 Conservative MPs voted to oust the Prime Minster – four in 10 of his MPs.

While bookmakers continue to make the Lib Dems strong favourites to take the seat, odds for a Conservative victory have shortened in recent days.

The Conservative campaigns was contacted for comment.

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