Conservatives advised on approach to next election by Curtice
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John Curtice maintained it is difficult to forecast Tories’ chances at the next election but suggested applying the same swing seen in North Shropshire would leave the party with only “three seats” in Parliament. The Strathclyde University pollster warned Boris Johnson there are at least two key factors he should be taking into consideration if he wants to secure his hold across northern areas of the UK. Asked how “vulnerable” the Tories could be in a new general election, Sir John said: “If we were to do the pieces now, that’s a piece of fun.
“If we applied all the swings in this by-election on the next general election, the Conservatives would be left with three seats.
“That, of course, is not going to happen but it’s another indication of the scale of this.
“I think there are two things for the Conservatives to worry about.”
He continued: “The first is that, indeed, that leave vote is potentially relatively fragile.
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“Second, there is a risk that the Liberal Democrats are now back in business.
“And perhaps their ability to eat away at votes in some vital Conservative seats will have been strengthened.
“But I think we should also recognise the future of our politics is probably now intimately tied up with the future of the pandemic, which is inevitably unknowable.
“What is true is that this Government at the moment is, in essence, betting that boosters will be enough to do with the pandemic and the NHS will not be overwhelmed.”
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Sir John added: “If that were to be proved wrong, it might be that the Conservatives will find this a very difficult position to recover from.”
The pollster warned the Prime Minister he should not heavily rely on pro-Brexit voters who lent him their support in 2019 as they are less likely to have any loyalty towards the Conservative Party.
The party took a drubbing on Thursday after the Liberal Democrats overcame a 23,000-majority and secured the seat of North Shropshire.
The area the constituency is in had been under Conservative control for over 200 years
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Conservative Party chairman Oliver Dowden said he was in touch with Boris Johnson on Friday morning.
He told LBC: “I have been in touch with the Prime Minister this morning.
“I’m seeing the Prime Minister immediately after I’ve done this very extensive news round this morning.
“What we must do as a Government is demonstrate that we are focused on the people’s priorities and I think what you’ve heard over the past couple of months is a lot of noises off.”
Mr Dowden continued: “That is why, for example, we are focusing, in the middle of this terrible surging Omicron virus, we’re focusing on getting the booster into people’s arms in order to make sure that we can keep some element of normality going on in our lives.
“That’s why we’re engaged with the hospitality industry who are facing tremendous challenges right now.
“We have to be laser-like focused on the people’s priorities, and that is the message I take from this – that people don’t want all these noises off. They want us focused on their priorities.”
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