Chequers could cost Welsh Conservatives five MPs in a general election

Chequers could cost Welsh Conservatives five MPs in a general election

by Brian Monteith
article from Monday 17, September, 2018

IT’S NOT JUST IN SCOTLAND that Conservatives face a humiliating rejection over Theresa May’s Chequers policy. The same goes for Wales too.

The Welsh Conservatives face a humiliating loss of five MPs if the UK government does not recognise its proposed Chequers Deal fails to deliver the Brexit voters were told to expect.  Theresa May said “Brexit means Brexit” and laid out what she would deliver in her speeches at Lancaster House, Florence, and Mansion House – since then it has been compromise after compromise – finally resulting into the retreat to her proposed Chequers Deal.

Polling conducted by the longstanding Brexit campaign group Global Britain across the top 44 Conservative marginals in Britain found widespread opposition to the Chequers plan – enough to convince an average of ten per cent of UK voters to not vote for the Conservative Party candidate. Worse still, voters who considered themselves ‘undecided’ about how to vote – the category most likely to decide an election outcome – were even more likely to vote against the Conservatives, standing at 14 per cent. 

The 44 seats polled included three Welsh divisions, Preseli Pembrokeshire, Aberconwy and Vale of Glamorgan – with each individual poll of 500 weighted voters showing enough would be likely to vote against the Conservatives for those seats to be lost. Alun Cairns (pictured), the cabinet member as Secretary for Wales would most likely lose his seat.

Considering the averages across those three seats suggests that if these figures were replicated across Wales – and given the geographical spread of the constituencies that would be a reasonable assumption to make  – any Welsh Conservative MP with a majority of less than 10 per cent would be highly vulnerable to defeat. Such an outcome would mean the loss of five of the eight Conservative seats – Preseli Pembrokeshire; Aberconwy; Vale of Glamorgan; Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire; and Clwyd West.

The table below shows the eight Welsh Conservative constituencies ranked by the percentage majority. The Global Britain Polling only considered Preseli Pembrokeshire (0.8 per cent majority); Aberconwy (2.0 per cent); and Vale of Glamorgan (4.1 per cent) – but there are two more below nine per cent majorities. A swing of five per cent against the Conservatives would hand over all five of those conservative seats to opponents. 

Member of Parliament

Constituency

Majority

% of vote

Stephen Crabb

Preseli Pembrokeshire

314

0.8%

Guto Bebb

Aberconwy

635

2.0%

Alun Cairns

Vale of Glamorgan

2,190

4.1%

Simon Hart

Carmarthen West & South Pembrokeshire

3,110

7.3%

David Jones

Clwyd West

3,437

8.5%

David Davies

Monmouth

8,206

16.5%

Christopher Davies

Brecon & Radnorshire

8,038

19.5%

Glyn Davies

Montgomeryshire

9,285

26.6%

 

When asked “If your local MP supported the Chequers deal, would this make you more or less likely to vote for them in an election?” the responses were – a net 1 per cent less likely in Preseli Pembrokeshire; a net 14 per cent less likely in Aberconwy; and a net 15 per cent less likely in Vale of Glamorgan – all larger margins than the respective constituency majorities. 

An additional concern must be that these are the net figures, derived from those voters opposing Chequers set against those that are more likely to support a Conservative MP over Chequers.  If those disposed towards the Chequers deal are primarily supporters of opposition parties then the net total against a Chequers supporting Conservative MP could be far worse as such voters would be unlikely to transfer their vote to a Conservative in a General Election, whereas a Conservative supporter against Chequers might vote for another party opposing Chequers (such as UKIP) or not vote at all. Taking the raw figure, the polling revealed those less likely to support their Conservative MP were 24 per cent in Preseli Pembrokeshire; 31 per cent in Aberconwy and in 33 per cent in Vale of Glamorgan.

Of course, when it comes to a general election, voters weigh-up many, many issues, but it cannot be doubted that the message from this polling is clear – the proposed Chequers Deal is highly toxic to Welsh Conservative supporters. It has the potential to convince Conservative voters to transfer to another party – or simply stay at home and not vote – enough to cost five MPs their seats. 

Given the precariousness of the UK government majority – already requiring the support of the DUP – the prospect of a Conservative victory in any forthcoming general election is very slim.

The full reports for Preseli Pembrokeshire, Aberconwy and Vale of Glamorgan can be found at the links below.

Preseli Pembrokeshire

Aberconwy

Vale of Glamorgan

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