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Could Chester's former UKIP voters determine city's next MP?

Votes are up for grabs because there is no UKIP candidate standing this time

 

UKIP leader Paul Nuttall Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire

Where Chester’s former UKIP voters decide to put their cross on the ballot paper tomorrow could decide who gets returned as the constituency’s next MP.

In 2015, Steve Ingram polled 4,148 votes for UKIP in a contest that saw Labour’s Chris Matheson scrape home with a 93-vote majority over his Tory opponent.

This time around there is no UKIP candidate so those votes are up for grabs among the three contenders – incumbent Mr Matheson, Tory candidate Will Gallagher and the Lib Dems’ Lizzie Jewkes.

Steve Ingram stood for UKIP in Chester during the 2015 general election but is now an independent (Image: David Holmes)

May’s local election results suggest Theresa May’s hard Brexit position is playing well with people who previously voted UKIP. Areas such as Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk and Lincolnshire all swung hard to the Conservatives with UKIP losing 10 or more councillors in each of these areas.

However, Chester’s Labour incumbent Mr Matheson does not believe the situation is clear cut based on the 2015 election and current feedback.

He said: “We were able to collate where the UKIP support came from and we reckon they took more votes from us than the Tories and we can see from canvassing returns that many are coming back to us.”

Chester Labour parliamentary candidate Chris Matheson

Mr Matheson agrees the election result for Chester will be close but believes he can win.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism has identified the City of Chester as one of the constituencies where former UKIP voters could decide the result of Thursday’s election.

Their study found 73 seats that could be decided by either newly registered voters or former UKIP and Green supporters who do not have a candidate from those parties to vote for on June 8.

The constituencies have been identified from a new election model that uses data from the Office of National Statistics, the Cabinet Office and the British Election Study.

Their research also highlights the case of Crewe and Nantwich which has been held by the Conservative minister Edward Timpson since 2008.

Here the number of newly registered voters stands at more than 1,000 more than the majority, with the potential for the seat to turn red if enough of these new voters back the Labour candidate Laura Smith.

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