Conservatives on track for defeat in Wakefield, polling suggests

The Conservatives could be on track for a significant by-election defeat in Wakefield, as new polling suggests Labour are 20 points ahead.

By Leanne Clarke
Monday, 6th June 2022, 10:24 am
Updated Monday, 6th June 2022, 10:27 am

Voters in the West Yorkshire seat will go to the polls on June 23, and the new figures suggest that Sir Keir Starmer’s party are set to win by some margin.

The figures come as a vote of confidence in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's leadership will take place this evening following the Sue Gray report into lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street.

Sir Graham Brady, the chairman of the 1922 Committee, announced just after 8am this morning that the 54-letter threshold had been breached.

Sign up to our daily Wakefield Express Today newsletter

The figures come as a vote of confidence in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's leadership will take place this evening following the Sue Gray report into lockdown-breaking parties in Downing Street.

Sir Graham said in a statement: “The threshold of 15 per cent of the parliamentary party seeking a vote of confidence in the leader of the Conservative Party has been exceeded.

“In accordance with the rules, a ballot will be held between 6pm and 8pm today."

The votes will be counted immediately afterwards and Sir Graham said the result will then be announced "shortly thereafter" tonight.

Downing Street said the vote "is a chance to end months of speculation and allow the Government to draw a line and move on".

The Wakefield constituency polling by JL Partners and reported in The Sunday Times is likely to make for anxious reading for Tory campaigners, with the company putting Labour on 48 points compared with 28 points for Mr Johnson’s party.

This signals a 19-point drop on the winning Conservative performance during the General Election in 2019.

The contest has been called as a result of the resignation of Imran Ahmad Khan after he was found guilty of sexual assault.

Khan won the seat for the Tories two-and-a-half years ago, but had the whip removed in 2021 when allegations came to light, and was kicked out of the party following his conviction.

James Johnson, co-founder of JL Partners and a former Downing Street pollster during Theresa May’s tenure, said the partygate saga looked to have damaged the Tory reputation among voters.

The polling expert said the top reason swing voters in the seat gave for preferring Labour was because “Boris Johnson tried to cover up partygate, and lied to the public”. According to the company, 60 per cent of those interviewed for the survey taken online between May 13-22 had a negative opinion of the Prime Minister.

James Johnson tweeted: “The main hesitations about voting Conservative: trust, Boris, and a sense the Tories are out of touch and only care about the rich.

“All signs are that partygate has crystallised historic concerns about the Tories and turned the people of Wakefield decidedly against them.”

The contest in Wakefield – and that in Tiverton and Honiton in Devon on the same day – will be the first electoral test for the Government since the release of Sue Gray’s report into partygate.