The Brexit Election Battleground: Yorkshire and the Humber

The Brexit Election Battleground: Yorkshire and the Humber

The region covering North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and the confusing amalgam of East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire formerly known as Humberside takes in 54 parliamentary seats and some highly contrasting territory.

Labour dominate with 33 seats, concentrated in the former mining and industrial heartland of South Yorkshire and urban seats around Leeds, Bradford and Hull. The greatest strength for the Tories here – defending 19 seats – is in rural North Yorkshire, although they also hold a clutch of West Yorkshire marginals and several others on Humberside.

This is the only region where the Lib Dems won more than one seat in 2015, with then party leader Nick Clegg just holding on in Sheffield Hallam and Greg Mulholland also clinging onto his Leeds seat.

As with every other region bar one, UKIP failed to win any seats here, but notched up an impressive 16% of the vote at the last election. Some of their best results were in seats that have long been deemed to very safe Labour territory, although there are no prizes for coming second in a First Past the Post election, as they did in fourteen Labour seats here.

In terms of Brexit, at the EU referendum, this was the fourth strongest region for the Leave campaign, which secured 57.7% of the votes – achieving some of its best results in those traditionally Labour areas.

Well-known Brexiteers standing in the region
Nigel Adams (Con, Selby and Ainsty)
Philip Davies (Con, Shipley)
David Davis (Con, Haltemprice and Howden)
Michelle Dewberry (Ind, Hull West and Hessle)
Mike Hookem MEP (UKIP, Great Grimsby)
Andrea Jenkyns (Con, Morley and Outwood)

MPs seeking re-election who voted against triggering Article 50
Nick Clegg (Lib Dem, Sheffield Hallam)
Mary Creagh (Lab, Wakefield)
Rachael Maskell (Lab, York Central)


Bradford South (Estimated Leave vote at June 2016 referendum: 63.6%)
Con: Tanya Graham
Lab: Judith Cummins (sitting MP)
LD: Stuart Thomas
UKIP: Stephen Place
Green: Darren Parkinson
Eng Dem: Therese Hirst

Lab: 16,328 (43.43%) – Maj: 6,450 (17.15%)
Con: 9,878 (26.27%)
UKIP: 9,057 (24.09%)
Green: 1,243 (3.31%)
LD: 1,094 (2.91%)

Bradford South (under various boundaries) has sent Labour MPs to Westminster at every election since 1945, albeit only holding on with three-figure majorities in 1983 and 1987. While there is no expectation of Judith Cummins not being re-elected to Parliament, UKIP won nearly a quarter of the vote here last time and if a chunk of that transferred to the Conservative candidate, it could be a closer run thing than it has been in the recent past.

Dewsbury (Estimated Leave vote at June 2016 referendum: 57.2%)
Con: Beth Prescott
Lab: Paula Sherriff (sitting MP)
LD: Ednan Hussain
UKIP: No candidate
Green: Simon Cope

Lab: 22,406 (41.78%) – Maj: 1,451 (2.71%)
Con: 20,955 (39.07%)
UKIP: 6,649 (12.40%)
LD: 1,924 (3.59%)
Green: 1,366 (2.55%)
Yorks: 236 (0.44%)
CPA: 94 (0.18%)

The Tories gained Dewsbury from Labour by a majority of around 1,500 votes in 2010 but lost it by the same margin five years later. It is now the party’s second target seat in the region and Brexit-backing Beth Prescott needs a swing of less than 1.5% to put it back in the Tory column. Her cause is aided by the lack of a candidate from UKIP, some of whose nearly 7,000 votes could help her over the line.

Don Valley (Estimated Leave vote at June 2016 referendum: 68.5%)
Con: Aaron Bell
Lab: Caroline Flint (sitting MP)
LD: Anthony Smith
UKIP: No candidate
Green: No candidate
Yorkshire: Stevie Manion

Lab: 19,621 (46.18%) – Maj: 8,885 (20.91%)
Con: 10,736 (25.27%)
UKIP: 9,963 (23.45%)
LD: 1,487 (3.50%)
TUSC: 437 (1.03%)
Eng Dem: 242 (0.5 7 %)

Blairite former minister Caroline Flint has been MP here since 1997 in what has always been strong Labour territory. Yet as a Remain backer she was out of touch with her electorate at the referendum where nearly seven in ten people backed Leave – and with UKIP not fielding a candidate at this election, there are nearly 10,000 voters from 2015 seeking a new political home. If the Conservatives scoop up a significant proportion of them, Flint will likely see her majority slashed.

Doncaster Central (Estimated Leave vote at June 2016 referendum: 66.7%)
Con: Tim Hunt
Lab: Rosie Winterton (sitting MP)
LD: Alison Breslford
UKIP: No candidate
Green: No candidate
Ind: Eddie Todd
Yorkshire: Chris Whitwood

Lab: 19,840 (49.08%) – Maj: 10,093 (24.97%)
UKIP: 9,747 (24.11%)
Con: 8,386 (20.75%)
LD: 1,717 (4.25%)
TUSC: 421 (1.04%)
Eng Dem: 309 (0.76%)

Labour’s former chief whip Rosie Winterton has represented this seat since 1997, where UKIP achieved a strong second place in 2015 with nearly a quarter of the vote. Yet this is another seat they have opted not to contest, providing a pool of nearly 10,000 votes in which the Tories will be keen to fish.

Great Grimsby (Estimated Leave vote at June 2016 referendum: 71.5%)
Con: Jo Gideon
Lab: Melanie Onn (sitting MP)
LD: Steve Beasant
UKIP: Mike Hookem MEP
Green: No candidate
Ind: Christina McGilligan-Fell

Lab: 13,414 (39.77%) – Maj: 4,540 (13.46%)
C: 8,874 (26.31%)
UKIP: 8,417 (24.95%)
LD: 1,680 (4.98%)
Green: 783 (2.32%)
Ind: 390 (1.16%)
TUSC: 173 (0.51%)

The Leave campaign secured the backing of more than seven in ten voters here in 2016, a year after a new Labour candidate, Melanie Onn, held onto the seat with less than 40% of the vote. She filled the shoes of prominent Labour Brexiteer and BrexitCentral regular, Austin Mitchell, who had long lamented the destruction of the local fishing industry as a result of the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy. As David Scullion chronicled here, local UKIP MEP Mike Hookem is now standing here after his party came third with 25% of the vote last time. If the anti-EU vote were to unite behind him or the Tory candidate, Labour’s hold on the seat would be in doubt.

Halifax (Estimated Leave vote at June 2016 referendum: 58.8%)
Con: Chris Pearson
Lab: Holly Lynch (sitting MP)
LD: James Baker
UKIP: Mark Weedon
Green: No candidate

Lab: 17,506 (40.01%) – Maj: 428 (0.98%)
C: 17,078 (39.03%)
UKIP: 5,621 (12.85%)
LD: 1,629 (3.72%)
Green: 1,142 (2.61%)
Respect: 465 (1.06%)
Ch P: 312 (0.71%)

1997 aside, Labour have never secured huge majorities here over the last thirty years in which they have held the parliamentary seat of Halifax. It is now their most vulnerable seat in the region and would fall to the Tories on a swing of 0.5%. It would only require a small proportion of the more than 5,500 UKIP votes from last time to make it a Tory gain, assuming the Conservatives’ existing support holds up.

Huddersfield (Estimated Leave vote at June 2016 referendum: 51.9%)
Con: Scott Benton
Lab: Barry Sheerman (sitting MP)
LD: Zulfiqar Ali
UKIP: No candidate
Green: Andrew Cooper
Ind: Marteen Thokkudubiyyapu
Yorkshire: Bikatshi Katenga

Lab: 18,186 (44.93%) – Maj: 7,345 (18.15%)
C: 10,841 (26.78%)
UKIP: 5,948 (14.69%)
Green: 2,798 (6.91%)
LD: 2,365 (5.84%)
TUSC: 340 (0.84%)

This is another seat that has long been held by Labour where the sitting MP’s semi-safe majority could look more precarious after polling day. UKIP won nearly 6,000 votes here in 2015 but without a candidate on the ballot paper the second-placed Tories will be seeking to ensure the opposition vote coalesces around them again.

Hull West and Hessle (Estimated Leave vote at June 2016 referendum: 68.0%)
Con: Christine Mackay
Lab: Emma Hardy
LD: Claire Thomas
UKIP: Gary Shores
Green: Mike Lammiman
Ind: Michelle Dewberry
Libertarian: Will Taylor

Lab: 15,646 (49.20%) – Maj 9,333 (29.35%)
UKIP: 6,313 (19.85%)
C: 5,561 (17.49%)
LD: 3,169 (9.96%)
Green: 943 (2.97%)
TUSC: 171 (0.54%)

This is an area that has never returned a Conservative MP and generally sent Labour MPs to Westminster with thumping majorities. However, it is also an area that voted nearly 70% for Leave at the EU referendum, despite local MP Alan Johnson running Labour’s Remain campaign. Johnson has now stepped down and a new Labour candidate has entered the fray, but also standing in the contest in her home seat is former Apprentice winner Michelle Dewberry – on a pro-Brexit ticket for those disillusioned by the major parties. Her intervention – as reported by BrexitCentral here – makes the election here far less predictable than usual.

Morley and Outwood (Estimated Leave vote at June 2016 referendum: 59.8%)
Con: Andrea Jenkyns
Lab: Neil Dawson
LD: Craig Dobson
UKIP: No candidate
Green: No candidate

Con: 18,776 (38.91%) – Maj: 422 (0.87%)
Lab: 18,354 (38.04%)
UKIP: 7,951 (16.48%)
LD: 1,426 (2.96%)
Green: 1,264 (2.62%)
Yorks: 479 (0.99%)

In 2015 Andrea Jenkyns caused one of the greatest stirs of election night when she defeated Labour’s Shadow Chancellor, Ed Balls, and won this seat for the Tories. Since then she has played a leading role in the Vote Leave campaign in Yorkshire – with nearly six in ten of her constituents backing Brexit – and is now seeking to consolidate her hold on the seat. The fact that UKIP are not opposing her should aid her cause, given that they won nearly 8,000 votes here at the last election.

Penistone and Stocksbridge (Estimated Leave vote at June 2016 referendum: 60.7%)
Con: Nicola Wilson
Lab: Angela Smith (sitting MP)
LD: Penny Baker
UKIP: John Booker
Green: No candidate

Lab: 19,691 (42.03%) – Maj: 6,723 (14.35%)
C: 12,968 (27.68%)
UKIP: 10,738 (22.92%)
LD: 2,957 (6.31%)
Eng Dem: 500 (1.07%)

If the Tories were to gain a seat in South Yorkshire any time soon, this Brexit-backing seat is their most likely target. Even so, it’s a big ask, although the fact that the combined UKIP/Tory vote amounted to more than 50% in 2015 should unnerve sitting Labour MP Angela Smith who, incidentally, did not vote in either of the key Commons divisions on triggering Article 50.

Rother Valley (Estimated Leave vote at June 2016 referendum: 66.7%)
Con: Bethan Eddy
Lab: Sir Kevin Barron (sitting MP)
LD: Katie Pruszynski
UKIP: Lee Hunter
Green: Paul Martin

Lab: 20,501 (43.60%) – Maj: 7,297 (15.52%)
UKIP: 13,204 (28.08%)
Con: 10,945 (23.28%)
LD: 1,992 (4.24%)
Eng Dem: 377 (0.80%)

Two thirds of voters here backed Brexit in a seat where historically the Labour vote might as well have been weighed rather than counted. Yet UKIP achieved their tenth best share of the vote in the country here in 2015, securing second place and nearly 30% of the vote. The party is contesting the seat again, but if national polls are accurate and UKIP’s vote is evaporating, where will those more than 13,000 votes go now?

Scunthorpe (Estimated Leave vote at June 2016 referendum: 68.7%)
Con: Holly Mumby-Croft
Lab: Nic Dakin (sitting MP)
LD: Ryk Downes
UKIP: Andy Tallis
Green: No candidate

Lab: 15,393 (41.67%) – Maj: 3,134 (8.48%)
Con: 12,259 (33.19%)
UKIP: 6,329 (17.13%)
Ind: 1,097 (2.97%)
Green: 887 (2.40%)
LD: 770 (2.08%)
Ind: 206 (0.56%)

Labour MP Nic Dakin may have cause to be nervous. He represents a seat in which nearly seven in ten voters backed Leave, he backed Remain and has a majority of around 3,000. If the new Tory candidate, local councillor Holly Mumby-Croft, can eat into the UKIP vote, she could yet find herself on the green benches after this election.

Sheffield Hallam (Estimated Leave vote at June 2016 referendum: 34.0%)
Con: Ian Walker
Lab: Jared O Mara
LD: Nick Clegg (sitting MP)
UKIP: John Thurley
Green: Logan Robin
Soc Dem: Steven Winstone

LD: 22,215 (40.04%) – Maj: 2,353 (4.24%)
Lab: 19,862 (35.80%)
Con: 7,544 (13.60%)
UKIP: 3,575 (6.44%)
Green: 1,772 (3.19%)
Ind: 249 (0.45%)
Eng Dem: 167 (0.30%)
Ind: 97 (0.17%)

Between 1918 and 1997, Sheffield Hallam – with an unusually high proportion of professionals and university-educated voters – consistently returned a Conservative MP to Westminster. But it was gained by the Lib Dems in 1997 and it was in 2005 that ex-MEP and future Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was first elected here. Yet after his mixed five years in the Coalition Government. the 15,000 majority he enjoyed in 2010 was slashed to barely 2,000 in 2015, with Labour overtaking the Tories to take second place. Unlike most of the rest of Sheffield, nearly 70% of Hallam voters backed Remain, so the Lib Dem position on Brexit may go down better here than in most places and send Clegg back to Westminster for another term.

Wakefield (Estimated Leave vote at June 2016 referendum: 62.8%)
Con: Antony Calvert
Lab: Mary Creagh (sitting MP)
LD: Denis Cronin
UKIP: No candidate
Green: No candidate
Ind: Waj Ali
Yorkshire: Lucy Brown

Lab: 17,301 (40.26%) – Maj: 2,613 (6.08%)
Con: 14,688 (34.18%)
UKIP: 7,862 (18.30%)
LD: 1,483 (3.45%)
Green: 1,069 (2.49%)
TUSC: 287 (0.67%)
CSA: 283 (0.66%)

Wakefield hasn’t elected a Tory MP since the early 1930s, but Antony Calvert will be hoping to change that at this election, having fought the seat in 2015 (and stood against Ed Balls in nearby Morley and Outwood in 2010). Labour’s Mary Creagh attempted a bid for her party’s leadership in 2015 but withdrew after failing to gain sufficient support. Given that earlier this year she was among those who voted against the triggering of Article 50, with UKIP now off the ballot paper, Calvert would be hoping to haul in a good clutch of their nearly 8,000 votes. However, in an unusual intervention during the campaign, the UKIP candidate in neighbouring Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford advisers former UKIP voters here to vote Labour.

York Central (Estimated Leave vote at June 2016 referendum: 38.8%)
Con: Ed Young
Lab: Rachael Maskell (sitting MP)
LD: Nick Love
UKIP: No candidate
Green: No candidate

Lab: 20,212 (42.39%) – Maj: 6,716 (14.09%)
Con: 13,496 (28.31%)
UKIP: 4,795 (10.06%)
Green: 4,791 (10.05%)
LD: 3,804 (7.98%)
Yorks: 291 (0.61%)
TUSC: 288 (0.60%)

The last time the seat covering the centre of the glorious city of York voted for a Tory MP was in 1987 – and then by less than 150 votes (when Vince Cable was the SDP candidate). The Conservatives would now require a swing from Labour of 7% to take it at this election. For the first time since the 1970s, just three candidates are contesting the seat, despite UKIP and the Greens having both secured 10% of the vote last time. Labour MP Rachael Maskell was among those who actively opposed the triggering of Article 50 earlier in the year.

Estimated Leave votes by constituency have been calculated by Chris Hanretty of the University of East Anglia

Photocredit: Neil Turner