Could Boris Johnson lose his seat in the next election? | boris johnson

Could Boris Johnson lose his seat in the next general election? It is a question that would have been laughable for any other prime minister, but his defeat in his constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip is not unthinkable.

Local elections in London earlier this month saw a substantial swing towards the Labor Party. A YouGov poll this weekend suggested Johnson would lose his seat if an election were held tomorrow. Electoral Calculus, which analyzes data from national polls, is also tentatively in favor of a Labor victory in the West London constituency.

“He’s hanging on at the top, which I really like because he’s such an unpopular guy now,” said David Williams, chairman of Hillingdon Labour. “Locally, he is not a political asset, he did not appear in local elections. So I want to see him go and I want him to stay at the same time, it’s a very strange feeling.”

It would take a hefty 15% swing for Johnson to lose. But Williams said changes to constituency boundaries will add Northolt to the seat, a city he described as “a strong Labor area”. Meanwhile, young commuters are moving away from central London to the outer boroughs and Hillingdon is no exception, especially with a new Elizabeth Line station in the Johnson constituency.

Perhaps the biggest local issue is the future of Heathrow’s third runway. Conservative-controlled Hillingdon council is also struggling with a £38m deficit, despite a £25m government bailout in March. One solution is to build more housing, which attracts more city taxpayers and section 106 payments from developers, earmarked for new amenities.

But the electoral cost of development is being felt in places like Yiewsley, a battleground in the south of the constituency. Labor wrested both council seats from the Conservatives in May, fueled by local opposition to council plans to replace the library with a six-storey apartment block and a new library, with part of it in the car park of Yewsley Park. The local swimming pool was demolished 14 years ago and the land is still empty despite promises of a new leisure centre. With campaign groups threatening judicial reviews and protests, the issue is likely to drag into next year and beyond, making it a local hot-button issue for Johnson.

Debbi King of campaign group Yiewsley.org said: “It will have a huge impact, so far it has been forced.” Johnson’s responses so far have been neutral, but speaking out against the plans would mean a confrontation with Conservative councilors who already blame Downing Street for their financial difficulties.

Boris Johnson plays petanque with residents of a residence
Boris Johnson plays boules with nursing home residents in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency he has occupied since 2015. Photograph: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The problem arises in the main street of Yiewsley. Outside a branch of Wenzel’s The Bakers, Paula Grimes, a charity worker, feels betrayed by the council’s approach to Yiewsley Pool and Park, even though she voted for Johnson last time and will again. “There are a lot of things bigger than lockdown parties,” she said, mentioning Ukraine and rising food prices. “I don’t think people can cope with a big change.”

His partner, Daniel McGuinness, vehemently disagrees. He resents Johnson’s decision to close during the pandemic. “I have absolutely no time for the man at all,” he said. “He introduces himself as a buffoon. I struggled during the lockdown.”

Johnson will be happier with the divisions between the Labor Party headquarters and Hillingdon’s left-wing activists. Williams said the party was hampered in local elections because they were not allowed to select candidates until shortly before the nominations deadline. “The national party is holding us back from selecting a [parliamentary] candidate,” he said. However, there is no shortage of strong contenders. “Everyone wants to be the knight who slays the dragon.”

Senior Labor figures say Uxbridge and South Ruislip would have to be among the 125 seats Labor wins if it wants to secure a majority in the next election. In fact, according to the Electoral Calculus, it would be up to Labor even if the party was 25 seats short of an outright majority.

However, prime ministers have a much larger personal vote than most parliamentarians. Margaret Thatcher comfortably occupied Finchley even though it was theoretically not a safe seat, according to Electoral Calculus founder Martin Baxter. Johnson’s seat “looks competitive,” he said. “What probably won’t happen is Johnson losing his seat but the Conservatives staying in power. The Prime Minister cannot lose his own seat without the Conservatives losing their parliamentary majority”.

A senior Conservative familiar with the area said a big upset is “possible” and Johnson could lose, suggesting the Liberal Conservatives who backed David Cameron and Theresa May were not deeply impressed with the prime minister. However, he said nontraditional conservative voters still liked Johnson.

“It’s fair to say that anyone at any time these days can be in trouble,” he said. “Anything is possible. But the local council is conservative and popular. There are good campaigners there and Johnson got over 50% of the vote last time. I think the economy will be the big thing, and how people feel personally. It’s also he may not be standing again, if he leaves.”

But there are other options for Johnson. He could do the “chicken run” and stand in a different seat, although doing so could be seen as a concession of defeat, a bad appearance for a prime minister. Assuming, of course, that by the time the next election rolls around, he’s still number 10.

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