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By Bishop of Leeds
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New Lib Dem MP Predicts Jacob Rees-Mogg Will Be "Booted Out" By Voters

Jacob Rees-Mogg has a majority of 14,729 in North East Somerset (Alamy)

5 min read

The new Liberal Democrat MP for Somerton and Frome has said she believes neighbouring Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg will be “booted out” by her party at the next general election, along with “large swathes” of other Tories.

Sarah Dyke, who overturned a large Conservative majority to win the Somerton and Frome by-election for the Liberal Democrats in July, told PoliticsHome that a number of seats across the south west present “huge opportunities” for her party.

“We're going to make sure that we work really hard in those key seats across the West Country, and I am reasonably confident that not only Jacob Rees-Mogg will be booted out of his seat, but large swathes of other Conservative MPs in the west country will go the similar way,” she said.

“The new seats as they're shaping up will be huge opportunities for us as Liberal Democrats and I'm really excited that as we start going through that process of transferring our focus into those new seats, the opportunities are going to be huge.”

The latest boundary review has changed a number of seats across the country, and Lib Dem activists are confident that the new make-up of seats – particularly around Rees-Mogg’s constituency of North East Somerset, which borders with Dyke's new constituency – could play in their favour where Lib Dem council wards are merging into areas that have been traditionally Tory. 

Dyke already has her eye on the general election campaign, but there will be another by-election for the Lib Dems to fight for in the next few months, after Conservative Nadine Dorries finally resigned as MP in Mid Bedfordshire. With Dorries’ resignation having been expected for months, both the Lib Dems and Labour have already been ramping up campaigning in the area

“The week after I was elected, I went straight up to Mid Bedfordshire, to hand over that by-election baton to the Mid Bedfordshire team,” Dyke said, adding that she had also been in the area this week. 

“They are obviously in a similar situation [to Somerton and Frome] in that they've had an inactive MP for so long, but it feels so so different,” she continued. 

“Talking to people on the doorsteps there really is that disillusionment with what's what's going on, particularly within the Conservative Party.

“People are just absolutely fed up to the back teeth of being taken for granted, they've felt that Nadine Dorries has been out of touch now for far too long.”

In Dyke’s own constituency, many residents felt the former MP, David Warburton, had not been a visible or accessible presence in the area, with one voter saying he “had no bloody clue” about local issues. 

Dyke’s biggest piece of advice for the Mid Bedfordshire Liberal Democrat candidate, Emma Holland-Lindsay, is therefore simply to meet as many voters as possible. 

“I said to Emma just to keep her feet on the ground, keep her focus on what she wants to achieve,” Dyke explained.

“Just go out there and knock on as many doors as possible and reach out to as many people as possible.”

But unlike in Somerton and Frome, where Lib Dems had a disproportionately large campaign presence compared to Labour, there is speculation that in Mid Bedfordshire, a split in the anti-Tory vote between Labour and the Lib Dems could make it more likely that the Conservatives hold onto Dorries’ former seat. Dyke insists this will not be the case. 

“I feel that there's a ceiling on that Labour vote, whereas I think the Liberal Democrats will have more opportunity to squeeze and encourage those Conservative voters to look at our candidate,” she explained.

“Over the next month, people will be warming to the Liberal Democrats as that natural choice, certainly for those disillusioned Conservative voters who were saying they will not be voting Conservative this time and probably not ever again, because the Conservative Party have just moved away from what their natural conservative views are and are now kind of moving to that extreme place that doesn't suit their politics.”

sarah dyke
Sarah Dyke is from a local farming family in Somerset (Alamy)

On Monday, Dyke will travel to Westminster where she will be sworn in as an MP, after having spent her first month in the job travelling around her constituency and holding surgeries with residents.

Her first task, as for all new MPs, will be to navigate the winding corridors of the Palace of Westminster and to draw up a plan for her parliamentary work over the next few months. But she already has an idea of the issues she wants to press. 

“I've got dentists closing all over the place within the constituency, closing entirely or closing their doors to NHS patients and people just do not know where to go,” Dyke said. 

“We've got people travelling into London from Somerset to get a dentist appointment, which is absolutely shocking.”

She has already sent letters to health secretary Steve Barclay calling for action to support NHS dentist surgeries. 

The newly-elected MP also ardently opposes the new government policy to scrap EU pollution laws in order to build more homes. An amendment in the Levelling Up Bill will be used to ditch pre-Brexit rules to combat water pollution, in order to enable more housebuilding – an issue expected to be at the top of the parliamentary agenda when the House returns next week. 

“Scrapping that is, in my view, a disgraceful act and is going to put huge amounts of pressure on our environment in our precious rivers and streams, in what is already a sensitive area,” Dyke said, referring to her own constituency. 

“Those are the real concerns specifically around the constituency where we've got this potential for environmental carnage and then those bigger issues around the NHS and GPs.”

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