The 2019 Election Battleground: London

The 2019 Election Battleground: London


Covers the 73 constituencies of Greater London, with the capital being the only English region to have backed Remain at the 2016 referendum. At the 2017 election, the Conservatives’ pro-Brexit stance was deemed to be the reason why they lost six seats here and several senior Brexiteer Tories are now defending uncomfortably small majorities.

This year’s European Parliament election – albeit on a turnout of just 41% – saw the Lib Dems top the poll in London and they are banking on a rise in their vote at this general election. However, there are few seats in which they have a realistic chance of winning and if they disproportionately take votes from Labour rather than the Tories, a surge for the ‘Stop Brexit’ party might actually help some vulnerable Conservatives hold on or even help the Tories gain some seats from Labour.

Leave voteshare at the referendum in 2016: 40.1%

2017 seat tally (compared with 2015)

  • Conservatives: 21 (-6)
  • Labour: 49 (+4)
  • Lib Dems: 3 (+2)

2017 voteshare (compared with 2015)

  • Conservatives: 33.1% (-1.7)
  • Labour: 54.5% (+10.8)
  • Lib Dems: 8.8% (+1.1)
  • UKIP: 1.3% (-6.8)
  • Green: 1.8% (-3.1)

Seats to Watch

Battersea (22.05% Leave)
In 2017 the Remain-voting credentials of Tory Treasury minister Jane Ellison weren’t enough to stop her losing Battersea to Labour’s Marsha De Cordova, who secured a majority of a little below 2,500. Local Conservative councillor Kim Caddy would now require a swing of 2% to regain the seat, where nearly eight in ten voters are estimated to have voted Remain. This is one of the seats where the Lib Dems (in a distant third place) could help deliver a Tory win if they disproportionately take votes from Labour.

Bermondsey and Old Southwark (26.05% Leave)
This is the Labour seat in the capital which would be, on paper, most vulnerable to a Lib Dem advance, although sitting MP Neil Coyle enjoyed a majority in 2017 of nearly 13,000. The Corbyn critic won it for Labour in 2015 – when he defeated Lib Dem Simon Hughes, who had held the seat on several different boundaries since 1983 – and Lib Dem candidate Humaira Ali would need a swing from Labour of 11% to take it.

Carshalton and Wallington (56.26% Leave)
Lib Dem Tom Brake won this suburban south London seat from the Tories in 1997 and has held it ever since, but on all but one occasion with a majority of less than 5,000. Now he defends a majority of a mere 1,369 and Conservative candidate and Stand Up for Brexit pledge signatory Elliot Colburn needs a swing of less than 1.5% to take the Leave-voting seat.

Chingford and Woodford Green (49.88% Leave)
Former Conservative leader and committed Brexiteer Iain Duncan Smith retained the seat he has represented since 1992 at the last election by fewer than 2,500 votes. Labour’s Faiza Shaheen would need a swing of a shade over 2.5% to take the seat, which saw an almost exact 50:50 Leave:Remain split at the 2016 referendum.

Chipping Barnet (41.07% Leave)
Labour’s top target in the capital and home to the most vulnerable Cabinet Minister – Environment Secretary Theresa Villiers. She retained the seat in 2017 with a majority of 353 and Labour candidate Emma Whysall needs a swing of less than 0.5% to unseat Villiers, who was a stalwart of the Vote Leave campaign as one of the Cabinet Ministers who defied then Prime Minister David Cameron and backed Brexit.

Cities of London and Westminster (28.05% Leave)
More than seven in ten residents voted Remain in the seat which covers the Houses of Parliament and many of the capital’s other most famous landmarks. It has also only ever returned Conservative MPs since its creation in 1950, although Mark Field’s majority in 2017 hit a historic low of a little over 3,000. He has opted against standing again and donning the blue rosette is Westminster Council leader Nickie Aiken, while challenging for Labour from second place is Gordon Nardell. But what makes this contest here all the more interesting is the decision of the Lib Dems to put up Chuka Umunna, the Labour MP for Streatham since 2010 who joined the Independent Group for Change/Change UK in February before defecting to the Lib Dems in June. In a tight race, Aiken could benefit from slippage in the Labour vote to Umunna, even if the Tory vote itself were to fall back a little further.

Croydon Central (50.31% Leave)
It was here in 2017 that then Minister for London and author of How to Win a Marginal Seat, Gavin Barwell, lost his marginal seat to Labour’s Sarah Jones. His consolation prize was to swiftly relocate to Downing Street as Theresa May’s Chief of Staff and after her resignation earlier this year he got another consolation prize in the form of a peerage. Fighting the seat this time for the Tories is Mario Creatura, who would need a 5% swing to overturn Jones’ majority of over 5,500.

Dagenham and Rainham (70.35% Leave)
This is the seat in Greater London which delivered the largest vote for Brexit at the 2016 referendum – unsurprising given that in 2015 UKIP had come second here with nearly 30% of the vote and even in 2017 they retained their deposit with more than 7% of the vote. Labour’s Jon Cruddas has been MP here since 2010 with majorities of less than 5,000 at every election and Tory candidate Damian White – Leader of local Havering Council and a supporter of the Stand Up for Brexit pledge – would need a swing of 5% to take the seat. It is, however, also a seat on which the Brexit Party has focused some attention, with former Labour activist and occasional BrexitCentral author Tom Bewick standing for them.

Enfield Southgate (37.88% Leave)
Michael Portillo’s defeat here in 1997 remains the stuff of election night legend, but David Burrowes won it back for the Conservatives in 2005 and held it until he was defeated by Labour’s Bambos Charalambous in 2017. This election sees the fourth successive electoral bout between Burrowes and Charalambous and the Labour majority of around 4,500 would fall on a swing to the Tories of 4.5%.

Finchley and Golders Green (31.10% Leave)
For decades Finchley was the political home of Margaret Thatcher, although the constituency never had super-safe status during her tenure. It fell to Labour in the 1997 landslide, but Mike Freer regained it for the Tories at the 2010 election which sent David Cameron to Downing Street. Freer now defends a fragile majority of 1,657 with second-placed Labour on paper needing a swing of around 1.5% to take the seat. However – and it’s a big however – despite starting in third place with less than 7% of the vote, the Lib Dems are throwing the kitchen sink at this constituency where nearly seven in ten voters backed Remain and there is a considerable Jewish population. And the Lib Dem candidate is outgoing MP for Liverpool Wavertree, Luciana Berger, a devout Remainer who left Labour for The Independent Group for Change/Change UK in February primarily over Labour’s handling of antisemitism, before joining the Lib Dems. A split in the left-of-centre/Remain vote could help Freer to hang on.

Harrow East (47.48% Leave)
Very much a straight Labour/Tory marginal, Brexiteer Bob Blackman holds the seat for the Conservatives with a majority of less than 2,000 and Labour’s Pamela Fitzpatrick would need a swing of a little under 2% to take the seat.

Hendon (41.57% Leave)
Labour’s second target seat in the capital, the party’s candidate David Pinto-Duschinsky would need a swing of 1% to oust sitting Conservative MP Matthew Offord.

Ilford South (43.31% Leave)
A safe Labour seat for two decades, where Mike Gapes revelled in a majority of over 30,000 in 2017. But there is a new Labour candidate standing in the form of trade unionist Sam Tarry as Gapes quit Labour in February for The Independent Group/Change UK and is now – like Anna Soubry and Chris Leslie – seeking re-election under the Independent Group for Change banner.

Kensington (31.20% Leave)
The final seat to declare in 2017 following numerous recounts, after which it emerged that Labour’s Emma Dent Coad had beaten incumbent Tory Victoria Borwick by a mere 20 votes. This makes it the top Tory target in England with Felicity Buchan now the Conservative name on the ballot paper. However, in a seat that was 69% Remain in 2016, the third-placed Lib Dems are in the mix in a way that they never have been before, and standing for them is Sam Gyimah: he was a minister under David Cameron and Theresa May and as recently as June a putative candidate for the Tory leadership, but who defected to the Lib Dems within a fortnight of losing the Tory whip for backing efforts to seize the Commons agenda in the name of preventing a no-deal Brexit. Buchan could well be the beneficiary of a split Labour/Lib Dem vote.

Putney (27.76% Leave)
Another heavily Remain-backing seat which has always been a clear Tory/Labour battle but where any advance by the third-placed Lib Dems will likely impact which of the other parties wins the seat, depending on who sheds more votes to the Lib Dems. The Conservative MP here since 2005, Justine Greening, is not seeking re-election, having sat out her final weeks in Parliament as an Independent after losing the whip for the same reason as Sam Gyimah (see above). Wandsworth councillor Will Sweet is tasked with defending her majority of 1,554, with Labour candidate Fleur Anderson needing a swing of a little over 1.5% to snatch the seat.

Richmond Park (28.69% Leave)
For a seat in which more than seven in ten people voted Remain and that has a recent history of voting Lib Dem, Brexiteer environment minister Zac Goldsmith has the fight of his life to hold on here. He won the seat in 2017 with a majority of 45, overturning the majority of 1,872 that Lib Dem Sarah Olney attained in the 2016 by-election caused by Goldsmith’s decision to resign and test opinion on Heathrow expansion (even though the Lib Dems are also opposed). It is the Lib Dems’ top target in England and is one of those where the Greens have withdrawn their candidate to back Olney as part of the United to Remain alliance.

Uxbridge and South Ruislip (57.19% Leave)
Boris Johnson’s seat since 2015, where he has a majority of a little over 5,000. Some have speculated that Labour candidate Ali Milani could pull off the shock of the election by securing a swing of more than 5% and beating the PM, but that strikes me as fanciful, especially given that voters here backed Brexit in greater numbers than the national average.

Wimbledon (29.37% Leave)
Since 1885, only on three occasions has Wimbledon returned anything other than a Conservative MP, and two of those were during the Blair years when Labour narrowly won. Stephen Hammond, who has been the Tory MP here since 2005, was one of the 21 Tories to lose the party whip for anti-Brexit antics in September, although he was one of the ten to have it returned in October, thereby allowing him to seek re-election as a Conservative. While committed to Boris Johnson’s pledge to ‘get Brexit done’, his Remainer credentials may aid his cause in a seat where, like neighbouring Putney, seven in ten voters were also Remainers in 2016. Labour candidate Jackie Schneider technically needs a swing of 5.5% to overturn his majority of 5,622. However, also as in Putney, the third-placed Lib Dems are pushing their message hard – and here their candidate Paul Kohler has the backing of the Greens, who withdrew their candidate to support him. It’s another seat where the Tory may benefit from a divided left-of-centre vote.

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