With his home in Sidmouth and his office in Exmouth, which way will Simon Jupp jump when the new constituency boundaries come into effect ?
The new Honiton constituency provides continuity with the old Tiverton and Honiton one, comprising 66% of the voters from the old constituency and 22% of the old Devon East Jupp constituency.
In contrast, the new East Exeter and Exmouth constituency adds 11% of Exeter voters to the residual 78% of Devon East creating a strange mixture of city and urban dormitory towns with the isolated seaside town of Budleigh Salterton.
Staying with Exmouth would seem to provide the greatest connection to his existing constituents but it is now regarded as one of 18 coastal marginal seats because of Tory failure to deal with the sewage scandal.
The waspish but astute Sasha Swire described him as: “Jumping Jupp flash”.
Whichever way he jumps and whatever the election result, it’s the beginning of a long goodbye from many of us.
Owl understands from multiple sources, the die is cast.
The 18 Tory seats where the sewage in rivers scandal could lead to Labour or Lib Dem victories
Richard Vaughan inews.co.uk
Tory MPs are in danger of losing their seats up and down the country due to a growing voter backlash against the Government’s handling of the river and seas sewage crisis.
i can reveal the target lists drawn up by the Liberal Democrats and Labour showing where the Conservatives are most vulnerable to being unseated at the next general election as a result of increasing anger over the dumping of raw sewage in the UK’s waterways.
Opposition parties have warned that the perceived failure of the Government to get a grip on the scandal is turning local businesses away from the Tories as they fear for their livelihoods, particularly in coastal towns.
The issue is being seized upon by local candidates hoping to peel off votes from Conservative MPs from Cumbria to East Sussex and the West Country.
The Lib Dems even have some major scalps in their sights, with Jacob Rees-Mogg’s Bath and North East Somerset an optimistic target, and Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab’s Esher and Walton a far more achievable seat with its 2,743-vote majority.
Tory MPs in the so-called Blue Wall, which takes in much of the party’s southern heartlands, are being heavily targeted by the Liberal Democrats, which believe the growing anger over local water pollution can deliver them further votes in areas that are typically pro-Remain.
The party believes it is such a major issue on the doorstep that they have drawn up sewage dumping data by each seat on their list, with plans to hammer the message home to voters about the amount of pollution taking place in their area.
One such seat is Eastbourne on the south coast, where the incumbent MP is Conservative Caroline Ansell, who is sitting on a majority of just over 4,300.
More on Save Britain’s Rivers
Local Lib Dem candidate and local councillor, Josh Babarinde, said the issue of sewage was among the first to come up on the doorstep as it is an area that is highly reliant on the tourism trade, with one in three jobs linked to tourism and hospitality.
“People have been complaining about getting ill after swimming in our waters due to the pollution that is being poured onto our beaches. It is putting people off going into the water, and this is a major concern for local businesses who worry people will decide against visiting the area,” Mr Babarinde told i.
“When you speak to people on the doorstep, they don’t distinguish between local elections and general elections they are just appalled with what is happening. They’re saying enough is enough and want something to be done about it.”
The local council is seeking to force executives from Southern Water to appear at the town hall to give reasons for the sewage spills, while demonstrations are being planned by swimming and water sports associations to raise further awareness of the problem in the run up to the local elections.
In East Devon, where Simon Jupp sits on a less than commanding 6,708-vote majority, local campaigners erected fake blue plaques on the seafront, name-checking the local MP as failing to prevent raw sewage being dumped in the region’s rivers and seas. [Owl emphasis]
The Lib Dems are also increasingly confident of securing the seat of Hazel Grove near Stockport, where the current MP, William Wragg, is due to stand down. The party controls Stockport council and this week became the first local authority to launch an investigation into sewage discharges into the River Mersey. It comes after official figures showed United Utilities, which supplies the water in the region, pumped waste into the Mersey 977 times in 2022, amounting to more than 13,000 hours of discharges.
Tim Farron, the party’s environmental spokesman, said people were “waking up to the shocking sewage scandal this Conservative Government has aided and abetted and they are rightly furious”.
More on General Election
“Summer holidays have been ruined by beach pollution warnings, our magnificent Lake District rendered unusable as toxic algae blooms from the sewage contamination, and children have fallen sick from playing in rivers,” he added.
Labour is also viewing the sewage scandal as a potential wedge issue with the Tories, in particular highlighting the cost to businesses. The party believes the issue could deliver it votes in Conservative held areas from as far afield as Barrow and Furness in Cumbria, Hastings and Rye in East Sussex, and Camborne and Redruth in Cornwall.
A Government response to shadow Environment Secretary, Jim McMahon, revealed that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs had made no assessment of the impact sewage spills were having on local businesses, despite it being raised as a major issue.
Mr McMahon said: “The Tories have turned their backs on coastal communities and businesses by allowing sewage pollution to hurt tourism. Coastal businesses regularly tell me of the damage to their livelihoods when the local beach has to close at short notice due to sewage pollution.
“You can’t claim to be on the side of business when you allow the places we care about to become open sewers.”
Tory MPs in such seats insist the opposition parties are being “disingenuous” over the issue of sewage in the country’s waterways, and believe the policies being put forward are unworkable.
A Conservative Party spokesman said: “We were the first Government to have a plan to tackle this issue.
“Labour have made much noise about what they would do differently, but their alternatives so far amount to nothing more than billions in further uncosted policies or massive increases to people’s bills.
“Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have suggested little more than new taxes, a policy that at current rate would take 500 years to fix the problem.”
List of areas with corresponding water companies and MPs:
Esher and Walton
East & Mid Devon
Simon Jupp (East Devon), Mel Stride (constituency covers parts of Mid Devon included in sewage list)
Sir John Redwood
Sir Greg Knight
Cheadle and Hazel Grove (Stockport LA)
Mary Robinson (Cheadle), William Wragg (Hazel Grove)
Thames, Severn Trent and Wessex
Sir Geoffrey Clinton-Brown
Bath and North East Somerset