Five Tory big beasts facing ‘Portillo moments’

Grant Shapps, Penny Mordaunt, James Cleverly, Jeremy Hunt and Robert Jenrick could all lose their seats
Grant Shapps, Penny Mordaunt, James Cleverly, Jeremy Hunt and Robert Jenrick could all lose their seats

The Conservatives face five potential “Portillo moments” if people vote tactically at the general election, campaigners have said.

Best for Britain, an anti-Tory campaign group, aims to inflict the “heaviest possible defeat” on the Government on July 4 by advising people to vote tactically.

Based on the most up-to-date MRP polling, it predicts that Tory big beasts Penny Mordaunt, Jeremy Hunt, Grant Shapps, James Cleverly and Robert Jenrick could lose their seats if voters club together to oust the Conservatives.

The campaigners described these potential defeats as Portillo moments, referring to the defeat of Michael Portillo, the former Tory cabinet minister, in New Labour’s 1997 landslide.

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, Liz Truss, his predecessor, and former home secretaries Suella Braverman and Dame Priti Patel were also listed as possible casualties.

Best for Britain revealed its tactical voting recommendations in more than 450 constituencies on Monday, proposing support for Labour in 370 seats, the Liberal Democrats in 69, the Green Party in three, the SNP in seven and Plaid Cymru in two.

It said its advice was intended to keep the Tories “out of power for a decade” while minimising the number of Reform UK MPs.

In Mr Sunak’s seat of Richmond and Northallerton, where Best of Britain is encouraging residents to back Labour, the organisation reported that 40 per cent of people were prepared to vote tactically for a change of Government.

It is also recommending that people vote Labour in Clacton in a bid to prevent Nigel Farage, the Reform leader, from becoming an MP for the first time at his eighth attempt.

In Mr Hunt’s seat of Godalming and Ash, where 45 per cent said they would vote tactically, the advice is to vote Liberal Democrat.

Ms Mordaunt, the Commons Leader, Mr Shapps, the Defence Secretary, Mr Cleverly, the Home Secretary, and Mr Jenrick, the former immigration minister, have all been tipped as potential future Tory leadership candidates, as have Mrs Braverman and Dame Priti.

In the most extreme scenario, if they were all to be wiped out on July 4 along with Mr Sunak, the party would have its options drastically curtailed – unless it was willing to pick a leader from outside the Commons.

Naomi Smith, the Best for Britain chief executive, said that “we are now a nation of tactical voters”, telling a press conference in London: “One in five people who say they are voting Labour at this election have confirmed in our polling that they are doing so tactically.

“Labour is not their first choice – they are lending their vote to Labour. One in three Liberal Democrat voters are saying the same.”

The recommendations follow a Survation study based on more than 40,000 surveys, which indicated that Labour is ahead in 456 seats and on course for a 262-seat majority, while the Tories could win just 72.