LONDON (Bywire News) - The Conservative Party anticipates losing three seats overnight, as results from crucial by-elections across the UK begin to surface. Beth Rigby, Sky News' political editor, reports that the current Tory majority seats - which have never previously seen Labour representatives - are under threat.
Somerton and Frome, despite a sturdy Tory majority of 19,000, may swing towards the Liberal Democrats, who have expressed strong confidence in their chances. This potential shift demonstrates the unpredictability of the current political climate and the strength of the resurgent Liberal Democrats.
Equally surprising is the optimism expressed by the Labour Party, as counting continues into the night. According to Rigby, Labour insiders believe their prospects look "good" in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency. This area holds particular significance as the former seat of ex-Prime Minister Boris Johnson, further underlining the scale of a potential upset.
An even greater challenge lies in Selby and Ainsty, a constituency with a substantial Tory majority. A Labour victory there would mark the biggest majority ever overturned by the party in a by-election. Nevertheless, insiders say Labour holds out hope for a positive result.
In an official statement, a Labour spokesperson said: "It's going to be some time before we get any results. But what we do know is that none of these seats have ever had a Labour MP before, so they were always going to be a challenge."
The spokesperson added, "We didn't even win Uxbridge in 1997 and to win Selby & Ainsty would require us to overturn the biggest majority in our history. So whilst we don't know if we've made it over the line, it's clear 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 - many for the first time."
These by-elections are being closely monitored as a litmus test for the leadership of Rishi Sunak, and a gauge of the shifting political sentiment in the United Kingdom. A loss for the Tories in these crucial seats could signal a shift in the political landscape and further challenges for the Conservatives moving forward.
(By Michael O'Sullivan)