— Ladbrokes Politics (@LadPolitics) December 9, 2019
There’s now just three days of campaigning to go until the 2019 election and what might happen is still hugely uncertain. Yes, a small Tory majority is the most likely outcome, but there are large tails on distribution of probabilities – meaning that we could be waking up on Friday (or more likely staying up late on Thursday) to encounter a Hung Parliament, or indeed, a massive Tory majority.
To distract from whatever horrors await, maybe instead it might be fun to wildly speculate on which famous names might provide this election’s so-called “Portillo Moment” – named after shock result in the 1997 election when then Defence Secretary and widely-tipped next-leader-in-waiting Michael Portillo lost his seat to upstart Labour MP Stephen Twigg.
Don’t feel too bad for him – he now carves out a rather nice living going on railway holidays for BBC documentaries.
Since 1997, the closest we’ve come to another similarly big-beast losing their seat both happened in 2015, when Labour’s Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls lost his seat, as did then Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.
So who might lose this year? Rather helpfully, Ladbrokes Politics has put together a list of odds for some of the most high-profile races, which you can see in the embedded tweet above.
Top of the list is Chuka Umunna. The erstwhile Labour and erstwhile Change UK defector to the Liberal Democrats, Umunna abandoned his current Streatham constituency as the area is redder-than-red, and has instead decided to campaign for the Cities of London and Westminster seat, which though a Lab/Con marginal at the last election, is thought to be fertile ground for the Liberal Democrats given the staunchly pro-Remain character of the constituency’s residents.
Dennis Skinner and Caroline Flint are both given 57% odds each, with perhaps isn’t surprising as they represent incredibly pro-Brexit seats. If the Labour vote is squeezed by the more consistent pro-Brexit message of the Conservatives or they bleed enough votes to the Brexit Party, then it could cost them.
4th on the list is LibDem leader Jo Swinson, with a 38% chance of losing her seat. This would be a shock result on the night, given how she is not just a party leader but also a fresh face. It would, however, cap off a troubled campaign that has seen her personal ratings faulter, perhaps due to both scepticism over the LibDems’s Revoke Article 50 policy, and… well, millennia of sexism still having an impact.
Also on the list are some prominent Brexiters: Iain Duncan Smith at 36%, Dominic Raab at 34%, John Redwood at 28% and Jacob Rees-Mogg at 20%. If any of those characters were to lose their seats, it would certainly be a morale boost for Remainers – however temporary.
Perhaps the most exciting possible outcome though is the one Ladbrokes gives a 22% chance of happening: Boris Johnson, The Prime Minister himself, losing his seat in Uxbridge.
If not likely, it is definitely conceivable. In Uxbridge, he’s sitting on a majority of just 5000. And counting against the man who wants to deliver Brexit is that the constituency is not just in London – which is a remain city on the whole – but the constituency is the Conservatives’ 4th most diverse seat. So it is easy to imagine how the anti-immigration rhetoric might backfire.
So perhaps Thursday night, or the early hours of Friday morning could provide some rather exciting moments. We can’t wait.