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James Cleverly’s popularity has plunged – but what do voters in his constituency think? | Politics News

Since taking over the Home Office brief, James Cleverly’s popularity has plummeted among the party membership. 

In a recent opinion poll by the website Conservative Home he has slid down the ministerial leaderboard – from first place to 11th.

The membership is one thing, but how is he faring on his home turf in Braintree, where he has been an MP since 2015?

It’s a staunch Conservative seat, so he should have a sympathetic audience.

However, people here are frustrated. The nearby RAF Wethersfield airbase has been housing asylum seekers since the summer, and locals are not happy.

Their MP initially opposed it, but he’s now in charge of the department overseeing it.

It’s given rise to the accusation that he’s more interested in his personal advancement than the needs of his constituents.

At the Finchingfield Lion pub, one parish councillor told Sky News that Mr Cleverly was no longer quite as “noisy” on the issue of the airbase. Another said that her opinion of Mr Cleverly had fallen in tandem with his professional rise.

They described him as a “shadowy” figure who appears for “meets and greets” but is never really around.

However, just showing his face is enough for some Braintree residents.

On the local high street, the pet shop owner said the MP often comes in and asks: “How is business going… is there anything we can do?”

“That goes a long way,” he said.

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Most agreed that Mr Cleverly is a nice enough guy – but in a community where immigration is a divisive political issue, they are sceptical of how effective their MP will be in the Home Office.

Most are frustrated by the government’s failure to deliver on the issue, but few are flirting with the Opposition parties either. A sense of resignation looms large.

By-elections: Rishi Sunak faces triple blow as polls close in three seats – including Boris Johnson’s old constituency | Politics News

Polling stations have closed in by-elections that could deliver a triple blow to Rishi Sunak – with the Liberal Democrats already claiming victory in one seat.

The results from Uxbridge and South Ruislip in west London, Selby and Ainsty in North Yorkshire, and Somerton and Frome in Somerset, are expected in the early hours of Friday morning.

The three seats were left empty by outgoing Conservative MPs – former prime minister Boris Johnson, Nigel Adams, and David Warburton, who has been an independent since last year.

Follow by-election coverage live: Tories expect to lose all three by-elections, Sky News told

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Lib Dems declare victory

According to political editor Beth Rigby, Mr Sunak‘s party are bracing to lose all three constituencies.

Mr Johnson had a majority of 7,210 when Uxbridge and South Ruislip was last contested at the general election in 2019, with Labour coming in second place.

Selby and Ainsty saw Mr Adams elected in the same year with a majority of over 20,000, again with Labour as the runner-up.

And Mr Warburton’s seat of Somerton and Frome saw him get a 19,213 majority in 2019, though it was the Liberal Democrats who came the closest to him.

A Conservative spokesperson said they knew the votes were always going to be “very challenging”, especially “given the circumstances in which they were brought about”.

It is common for sitting governments to perform poorly in by-elections, but it is also common for parties to talk down their chances, so they can frame a positive result as an unexpected success.

The Liberal Democrats claimed victory in Somerton and Frome before midnight – although of third of ballots were still waiting to be counted – overturning a majority of close to 20,000.

Christine Jardine, MP for Edinburgh West, told Sky News: “We’ve won this quite decisively, the Conservative vote is just collapsing, and I think that’s indicative of how people here feel about how the government has let them down over the past five years.”

She added that the Lib Dems are experiencing a “new period of growth” and they have “romped home”.

Did Labour fail to manage expectations in Selby and Ainsty?

Sam Coates

Sam Coates

Deputy political editor

@SamCoatesSky

Of the three by-elections, the result in Selby and Ainsty – a Labour vs Conservative contest – is the most interesting.

I’m hearing both sides hope they’ve won it – it’s going to be close.

A Tory loss would mean Labour overturning the biggest ever Tory majority at a by-election – a record last set in 1990 in Mid Staffordshire.

I’m stunned Labour didn’t do better expectation management – they allowed the (Tory) idea to take hold that a win was priced in.

They didn’t push back at this very hard.

Now they’re having to admit they don’t know.

A Labour spokesman said they “don’t know if we’ve made it over the line” in the other two seats – but claimed that “Keir Starmer’s leadership of a changed Labour Party, back in the service of working people, has seen voters put their trust in us”.

While the cost of living was the main factor in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, local factors – specifically the ULEZ expansion – understood to have dampened Labour support in the seat, with party insiders believing the vote could still go either way.

Labour MP Steve Reed told Sky News at the Uxbridge and South Ruislip count that he was “not going to predict” which was the vote would go – and claimed the election was “always going to be close”.

Former Conservative minister Sir Robert Buckland told Sky News he reckoned his party will lose all three votes.

He said: “Being realistic and frank, if, as I expect, we don’t do well tonight we need to reflect on that.

“I think it’s going to be a difficult night for us.”

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‘Likely’ all three seats lost

Ballot boxes began to be opened and votes counted from 10pm.

Results are not expected until the small hours of the morning at the earliest – especially if the results are close.

Braverman wins ‘Battle of Waterlooville’ in selection for proposed new Hampshire constituency | Politics News

Suella Braverman has won a contest against backbencher Flick Drummond to continue as an MP, in what has been dubbed as the “Battle of Waterlooville”.

The two Conservatives went head-to-head for a new proposed constituency of Fareham and Waterlooville, which will be created due to boundary changes in the Hampshire area.

Ms Braverman, the home secretary, won a vote of eligible local Tory party members by a slim majority of 77 to 54.

“I am honoured and humbled to have been adopted by Conservatives members to be their Parliamentary Candidate for the new Fareham and Waterlooville constituency,” Ms Braverman wrote on Twitter.

Ms Drummond said she was “incredibly disappointed” by the election result but said she would “continue to be Meon Valley MP” until the next election, a position she has held since 2019.

The new constituency will scrap the existing constituencies of Meon Valley and Fareham.

Flick Drummond
Image:
Flick Drummond

This is just one of a number of proposed constituency changes that have been proposed across the UK as part of the 2023 boundary review.

The review will present its final recommendations on 1 July, after being launched in January 2021. Changes are expected to be implemented before the next election.

Ms Braverman’s successful win comes on the same day that the Home Office confirmed a giant vessel docked off the Dorset coast will be used to hold hundreds of asylum seekers.

Despite legal threats from local Conservatives, the barge, called the Bibby Stockholm, will be berthed in Portland Port for at least 18 months and will accommodate about 500 single adult males while their claims are processed.

The accommodation was described as “basic” with healthcare provision, catering facilities and 24/7 security by the Home Office.

TV host Adam Hills holds mock surgery in Matt Hancock’s constituency while MP remains in the jungle | Ents & Arts News

The Last Leg host Adam Hills has held a mock political surgery in Matt Hancock’s constituency – but says people turned up with “genuine issues”.

The Australian TV presenter and comedian visited the town of Mildenhall on Sunday to allow the locals the chance to raise their concerns while the West Suffolk MP continues his controversial appearance on ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!

Mr Hancock has faced strong criticism for appearing on the reality show and had the Tory whip suspended for joining at a time when Parliament is sitting.

Hills, 52, appeared on Good Morning Britain to speak about the fake public drop-in, which will be shown during Friday’s episode of his Channel 4 comedy talk show The Last Leg.

He said: “I tell you what, everybody turned up with a genuine issue. I was really surprised, I thought people would have comedy issues but no, people wanted better access to public transport, to dentists, to doctors, all that kind of stuff.

“This was the interesting thing, at the end of it, they all said, ‘We just want to be listened to’.

“That was the main thing, they said we just want Matt Hancock to come here and listen to us. It’s like a marriage, you just want the other person to listen to you.”

Hills agreed when co-host Richard Madeley suggested the mood was “more in sorrow than anger”.

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“Absolutely,” he said. “People aren’t angry, they just want their MP to turn up and listen to their concerns.”

Read more:
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He added: “A whole bunch of people said it would just be nice to get a response, we’ve sent emails, we’ve sent letters and when that response is, ‘I’m sorry, I’m eating a kangaroo’s penis in the Australian jungle right now’, that’s kind of not what they’re hoping for.”

Mr Hancock has previously stressed the first thing he will do after leaving the jungle will be to return to Suffolk and hold a surgery with his constituents.