EXCL Boris Johnson seat most at risk from voters angry over housing crisis, internal Labour polling reveals

Posted On: 
12th February 2019

Boris Johnson is the Tory most at risk of being booted out of parliament by voters angry at the Government's handling of the housing crisis, PoliticsHome can reveal.

Boris Johnson is at the top of the Labour housing "hit list"
Credit: 
PA Images

New analysis by the Labour party found swathes of potential swing voters in his Uxbridge seat who plumped for the Conservatives at the last election but who are struggling to get on the property ladder.

Shadow Housing Secretary John Healey, in an exclusive interview with PoliticsHome, said top Tories in similar seats would find “it’s not Brexit that sinks them but housing”.

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The internal Labour analysis layered data showing Tory voters who were most likely to switch to Labour and the extent to which housing will play a part in their decision.

It found the most voters who fit that mould in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip seat which the former Foreign Secretary has represented since 2015. He won a majority of just 5,000 votes at the 2017 snap election.

Other Tory MPs high up on what Mr Healey dubbed his “housing hit list” include Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd (Hastings and Rye) and her junior minister Alok Sharma (Reading West).

Others include junior Cabinet Office minister Chloe Smith (Norwich North) and Tory big-hitters Robert Halfon (Harlow), Justine Greening (Putney) and Johnny Mercer (Plymouth Moor View).

Mr Healey explained: “It’s a combination of those areas where the sense of housing crisis is highest, matched with those areas where the willingness to consider switching from Tory to Labour is highest...

“These are seats where some of the top Tories like Boris Johnson are going to find it’s not Brexit that sinks them but housing.”

The analysis chimes with polling undertaken in the wake of the 2017 election which found homeowners were more likely to vote Conservative while private renters usually plumped for Labour.

Mr Healey explained that in Hillingdon, which includes Uxbridge, average property prices had reached more than 12 times average earnings and average rents were riding at £2,800 a month.

PoliticsHome understands Labour is planning policy announcements with the voter analysis in mind and will target campaign efforts in a bid to snatch the most vulnerable Tory seats.

Mr Healey said the Labour offer at the next election would be aimed “as much at those who are wannabe homeowners who are locked out of the market” as at the most vulnerable in society.

'ASPIRATION SMASHED'

The party has promised schemes such as linking mortgage payments to no more than a third of average local household incomes for first time buyers.

"In many cases - particularly for younger people - those whose incomes are insecure or those who don’t have family wealth behind them are locked out of that dream [of ownership] and that aspiration has been smashed," Mr Healey said.

"And the fact that we have now got more than 900,000 under-45s who do not own a home now than we did in 2010 is just an extraordinary shift and probably the clearest sign of a failing housing market combined with a failure of housing policy to do anything about it."

He went on: "This is why even Theresa May was forced to admit after the last election... it was going to be her personal mission to try and fix the housing crisis.

"But of course she’s failing on housing in the same way she is failing on Brexit and largely for the same reasons.

"The Conservative party is divided ideologically, dysfunctional in government and unable to step up to tackle the really big challenges, whether that's with Brexit or whether it’s sorting the housing crisis."

BREXIT

Elsewhere in the interview, Mr Healey said he could not sympathise with Labour MPs in hard-up northern heartlands who might be tempted to back Theresa May on Brexit in return for investment in their seats.

Reports last month said Downing Street was preparing to offer MPs big cash boosts for their constituencies if they agree to back the Brexit deal the Prime Minister clinched with Brussels.

Mr Healey said: “The best hope for areas like ours across the swathes of the midlands and the north is a change of government. Not a deal with a Conservative prime minister.”

LABOUR ANTI-SEMITISM

He also said Labour must “go further” in tackling the anti-Semitism crisis that has engulfed the party.

He insisted the movement “has got to be absolutely intolerant and rid ourselves of any member where there is evidence of any anti-Semitism or racism”.