Tories warned ‘no seat is safe’ as Lib Dems put Gove and Hunt on ‘big beast’ hit list

Labour vs Conservatives: Latest polls ahead of 2024 general election

jeremy hunt, lib dem, ed davey, cabinet, tory, decapitation, michael gove, general election, tories warned ‘no seat is safe’ as lib dems put gove and hunt on ‘big beast’ hit list

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt and cabinet veteran Michael Gove appear at the head of a Lib Dem hit list of top Tory targets they believe they can unseat in the general election.

The list is part of a wider strategy by the Lib Dems to “break the Tory blue wall” of traditionally safe seats across the south of England with previously unwinnable constituencies in counties like Surrey now in their targets.

Since winning the Chesham and Amersham by-election in 2021, Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey has made no secret of his hopes to repaint the blue wall yellow on the electoral map.

But the plan to pour extra resources into seats held by five current cabinet ministers and five more being vacated by former Tory grandees including Theresa May and Sir John Redwood has echoes of the party’s disastrous decapitation strategy in 2005 which backfired spectacularly.

jeremy hunt, lib dem, ed davey, cabinet, tory, decapitation, michael gove, general election, tories warned ‘no seat is safe’ as lib dems put gove and hunt on ‘big beast’ hit list
Michael Gove’s seat is vulnerable (PA)

Back in the 2005 election, the Lib Dems put forward a list which included the then Tory leader Michael Howard and one of his top lieutenants Oliver Letwin which they believed they could take. But in the end they failed in all of them and the targets mostly increased their majorities.

But this time, with a poll today suggesting the Lib Dems could win more seats than the Conservatives, the party’s leadership is optimistic about pulling off some major shocks.

In South West Surrey Mr Hunt has ploughed £100,000 of his own money to defend his seat as he becomes nervous about his 8,817 majority from 2019.

Meanwhile the Lib Dems believe that Mr Gove’s Surrey Heath seat is also up for grabs hoping to overturn an 18,349 majority.

jeremy hunt, lib dem, ed davey, cabinet, tory, decapitation, michael gove, general election, tories warned ‘no seat is safe’ as lib dems put gove and hunt on ‘big beast’ hit list
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt could be in danger of losing his seat (Aaron Chown/PA) (PA Wire)

Other cabinet ministers being heavily targeted are education secretary Gillian Keegan in Chichester, culture secretary Lucy Frazer in South East Cambridgeshire, and justice secretary Alex Chalk in Cheltenham.

Few are giving Mr Chalk much hope of holding on with a majority from 2019 of just 981 to defend. Ms Frazer is also in trouble defending a majority of 11,490 while Ms Keegan looks safer with a majority of 21,490 to defend.

Liberal Democrat deputy leader Daisy Cooper told The Independent: “Conservative bigwigs are not safe from losing their seats after their disastrous record in government.

“A string of Conservative Ministers have completely botched their jobs, from crashing the economy to letting hospitals crumble and sewage pollute our rivers.

“There is no such thing as a safe Conservative seat anymore. The British public are fed up after years of sleaze and scandal.

“The Liberal Democrats are ready to kick these Conservative big beasts out of office. Across vast swathes of the country, it is a two horse race between the Liberal Democrats and a desperately out of touch Conservative party.”

The Lib Dems also hope to take out former cabinet minister Greg Clark in Tunbridge Wells, while departing grandees Theresa May in Maidenhead, Sir John Redwood in Wokingham, Dominic Raab in Esher and Walton, and Nadhim Zahawi in Stratford-upon-Avon have made all those seats vulnerable.

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