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Election 2024: Why Jeremy Hunt and Penny Mordaunt could lose their seats

From left, Lucia Hunt wife of Jeremy Hunt; Akshata Murty wife of Rishi Sunak, secretary of state for culture, media, and sport, Lucy Frazer and Susie Cleverly wife of James Cleverly on the campaign trail. Photo: PA
From left, Lucia Hunt wife of Jeremy Hunt; Akshata Murty wife of Rishi Sunak, secretary of state for culture, media, and sport, Lucy Frazer and Susie Cleverly wife of James Cleverly on the campaign trail. Photo: PA

With the general election now just a week away, several top Tories – including Jeremy Hunt and Penny Mordaunt, among dozens more – may be struggling to get a good night’s sleep.

The July 4 election is widely expected to be a Labour landslide, with a poll commissioned by the Telegraph last week predicting the Tories will slump to 53 seats, down from 365 in 2019.

And senior party figures are at risk of being among the hundreds of seats lost, with Guardian analysis suggesting 21 so-called Tory ‘big beasts’ could be voted out on polling day.

Many more high-profile Conservative figures stepped down before the election was called, with Michael Gove, Matt Hancock and Theresa May among the 75 Conservative MPs ruling themselves out – compared to Labour’s 34.

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Here’s all you need to know about the big names likely to join this list of ex-MPs.

Jeremy Hunt

The current Chancellor is contesting a new seat, Godalming and Ash, and Hunt has described the result there as being on a “knife edge”. YouGov’s latest MRP poll predicted he will lose to the Liberal Democrats.

It puts the Tories on 29.4 per cent of the vote, while predicting Paul Follows, the Lib Dem candidate, will take 46.3 per cent. In 2019, Hunt won 53.3 per cent of the vote in South West Surrey, where he was an MP since 2005.

Last week, the Chancellor said he is “fighting” for the seat and had “always treated it as a marginal constituency”, while Labour candidate, James Walsh: “I am the underdog.”

Hunt served as health secretary between 2012 and 2018, and ran for the Tory leadership in 2019 and 2022 before becoming Chancellor. He recently told a school event Liz Truss’ economic policies were “a good thing to aim for”.

Penny Mordaunt

Penny Mourdant, who was leader of the House of Commons before it was dissolved for the election, faces a tight race in her Portsmouth North constituency.

Despite winning a healthy majority of 15,780 in 2019, YouGov predicts Labour’s Amanda Martin will take 36.8 per cent of the vote, edging out Mordaunt’s forecast 33.8 per cent.

After working for John Major, William Hague, and George W. Bush, Mordaunt was elected as an MP in 2010 and has become a significant Tory figure. She participated in King Charles’ coronation in the ceremonial role of Lord President of the Privy Council, as the first ever woman to perform this duty, carrying an 8lb, gold encrusted sword for almost an hour.

Mordaunt has contested two Tory leadership elections, following the resignations of Boris Johnson and Liz Truss, but faced criticism for some of her pro-transgender comments.

Gillian Keegan

The current education secretary is also at risk of being voted out as an MP, facing a possible swing to the Liberal Democrats in her Chichester seat.

Keegan took 57.8 per cent of the vote in 2019. But YouGov predicts the Lib Dems will increase their vote share to 38.7 per cent, while Keegan’s will fall to 26.6 per cent.

Earlier this month, when asked by ITV News whether she would consider quitting politics, Keegan said: “Never. I’ve never thrown in the towel in my life.”

Keegan made headlines after an interview about the RAAC crisis in UK schools, where she was recorded saying: “Does anyone ever say ‘you know what, you’ve done a f***ing good job [be]cause everyone else has sat on their arse and done nothing’? No signs of that, no?”

Jacob Rees-Mogg

Former leader of the House Jacob Rees-Mogg is projected to lose North East Somerset and Hanham to Labour next month, as YouGov predicts that his 50.4 per cent vote share will slip to 35 per cent. Labour’s Dan Norris could clinch it, with 40.8 per cent, YouGov reckons.

Rees-Mogg has become a controversial figure during his 14 years in Parliament. He is a vocal critic of the EU, and chaired the European Research Group, a Eurosceptic alliance.

He is representative of the traditional wing of the party, having said in 2015 he is “not proud” of same-sex marriage being legal, and in 2022 described abortion as a “cult of death”.

The former minister went viral in 2019 for lying down on a bench in the House of Commons during a three-hour debate on Brexit – which Rees-Mogg soon admitted to be a “mistake”.

Grant Schapps

The current defence secretary, Grant Schapps, is set to lose the 10,955-strong majority he won in Welwyn Hatfield in 2019, as YouGov predicts Labour’s candidate Andrew Lewin winning 46.4 per cent of the vote.

Schapps has held a number of cabinet positions since becoming an MP in 2005, including energy secretary and transport secretary.

He was appointed home secretary in October 2022 following the resignation of Suella Braverman, but was soon made business secretary in the cabinet reshuffle that followed Liz Truss’ resignation and Rishi Sunak’s appointment as party leader.

By Felix Armstrong