Surrey Heath by-election speculation has Truss rattled

There is speculation tonight that Michael Gove will stand down from his Surrey Heath seat if Liz Truss is elected leader of the Conservative Party next Monday. The Guardian and Independent report the Liberal Democrats are rushing through plans to confirm a candidate for the seat amid speculation that the former levelling up secretary is considering quitting parliament, triggering a byelection. The Lib Dems are reported as having set a deadline of this week for selection of a candidate for the constituency.

Tory sources are reported as denying that Gove will quit, accusing the Lib Dems of political dirty tricks. There is speculation nevertheless that he will return to journalism.

The Lib Dems in Surrey Heath are reported to have mailed members to explain nominations for the local selection process end on Wednesday evening.

“We always work hard to support seats where there might be a possible by-election,” a Lib Dem source said, adding the party was on “high alert” in the area. The source said:

Given current rumours about Michael Gove quitting his constituency to return to journalism, it would be natural to ensure that Surrey Heath is election ready… Unlike the Conservatives, we never neglect what people are saying locally. We take nothing for granted and know winning a seat like this would be very hard work.

Gove has a majority of 18,349.

The Lib Dems are said speeding up its selection process in several other target areas across the south held by Tory MPs – including Nadine Dorries’ Mid Bedfordshire seat – where there is speculation of a by-election because Boris Johnson wants to elevate her to the Lords.

Liz Truss is reported by the i to have vowed to boost funding for the Tories’ unit for taking on the Liberal Democrats. It quotes Truss writing on Conservative Home:

I will increase funding for the LibDem Unit at CCHQ to ensure we can offer the best possible advice and support to associations and candidates facing strong Lib Dem challengers. As a recovered Lib Dem myself, I know that the issues and areas that they focus on are different to Labour and require a different approach.

A Lib Dem source told the newspaper Truss was “right to be worried” about the threat. But she’s kidding herself if she thinks this will be enough to save the Blue Wall at the next election. Tory voters “deserting the party in their droves”. It could “only get worse with Liz Truss at the helm, pursuing divisive policies that are completely out of touch with people’s everyday lives”. The source added:

We never take anything for granted. It would be a very hard fight and always we come in as the underdog. We don’t underestimate how hard we have to graft at every byelection.

Daisy Cooper added:

It’s appalling that Liz Truss is more focused on saving her party than the country.

Promising to splash cash on Conservative MPs clinging on to their seats whilst saying nothing about how she will help families and pensioners with their skyrocketing energy bills.

The i also says it understands that Michael Gove will not stand down before the next general election.

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  • How many more rumoured or potential by elections?
    What we seem to have is Somerton and Frome, North East Somerset, Mid Beds, Selby and Ainsty, Henley, Uxbridge, Esher and Walton, Tamworth etc etc.

  • Lloyd Harris 31st Aug '22 - 7:58pm

    @theakes reminds me of a phrase about rodents and sinking ships ….

  • George Thomas 31st Aug '22 - 9:54pm

    “”Daisy Cooper added:

    “It’s appalling that Liz Truss is more focused on saving her party than the country.””

    Please don’t forget to join up the dots for people: that, at least from David Cameron onwards, The Tory party has always focused more on their party than good of the country (doubly so for nations outside of England which don’t have such a large effect on who wins Westminster) and things have become worse every year because of them.

    The last few years aren’t some flash-in-the-pan or bad luck, it’s the result of a broken system politically and through broken political media which Michael Gove, for all the good that he does in comparison to some of his colleagues, is very much a part of.

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