he Tory candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip has admitted it will be “very difficult” for the party to hold on to Boris Johnson’s former seat in Thursday’s by-election.
Steve Tuckwell, who is a Conservative councillor for South Ruislip, said he is working “incredibly hard” to secure a victory, despite a recent poll, which gave Labour’s Danny Beales an eight-point lead.
The Tories are desperately seeking to hold on to the constituency after former prime minister Boris Johnson resigned as its MP in June, shortly before the publication of a cross-party report concluding he deliberately misled the Commons over partygate.
Speaking to the PA news agency, Mr Tuckwell said: “First thing, Boris Johnson’s name is not on the ballot paper; mine is.
“Pundits and pollsters are predicting that this is going to be a Labour win, so that is giving me additional motivation to work as incredibly hard as I can.
“I’ve knocked on literally hundreds, possibly thousands of doors over the last four weeks since I was selected.
“It’s no illusion that this is going to be very difficult, it’s going to be hard and it’s going to be challenging, but I’m incredibly motivated to earn every vote.”
Mr Tuckwell said there were a “variety of reasons” why he is not leading in the polls.
Local Uxbridge voters generally believe it will be a close race between Labour and the Tories at the by-election.
Bernie Sammons, 82, an Optometrist from Uxbridge, said he believed the Conservatives would hold on to the seat.
He said: “I know last time (at the 2019 general election) it was a little bit near the mark, but I would say it will just about be a Conservative win.
“But there will obviously be more Labour (votes).
“Oh gosh, if the Labour Party got in – oh my goodness – they’ll kill us.
“Imagine what tax increases the Labour Party will make.”
Former Labour voter, Steve Williams, 57, a business owner from Uxbridge, said the Tories still have a chance to receive a “massive majority”.
He said: “I think (the Tories) still have a chance to win because of their local support… which might be a good or bad thing for businesses.
“But, I’m pretty glad Boris is gone because he was a bit of a liability.
“Whoever gets in – it will be good if they’re a local.”
He added that he is “not really sure” who he will vote for at the by-election.
The Liberal Democrat candidate, Blaise Baquiche said he wants to send a “personal” message to the Tories about partygate at the election.
He said: “Partygate for me is personal, I lost my father to Covid in the very week that Boris Johnson partied.
“I find Johnson’s lack of contrition sickening, and I feel like I represent hundreds of thousands of families across the country who feel the same way.
“I feel like there are people up and down this country who may have voted Conservative all their life, but are just sick of this Tory top brass.
“Who are completely unapologetic about partygate and Liz Truss’ kamikaze budget.
“Those are the sorts of Tories that those Conservative supporters want out.
“So they should send a message to the Tories at this by-election and just not vote for them.”
At the 2019 general election, Mr Johnson increased his standing majority to 25,351, from 23,716 in 2017, with Labour in second place on both occasions.
The other candidates set to run are: Cameron Bell (Independent), Count Binface (Count Binface Party), Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers Corbyn (Let London Live), Laurence Fox (Reclaim Party), Sarah Green (Green Party), Richard Hewison (Rejoin EU), Rebecca Jane (Ukip), Enomfon Ntefon (Christian People’s Alliance), Leo Phaure (Independent), 77 Joseph (Independent), Kingsley Hamilton (Independent), Ed Gemmell (Climate Party), Steve Gardner (Social Democratic Party).
PA approached Labour’s Danny Beales for an interview but he was unavailable.