Until the 2017 General Election, Canterbury had long been a Conservative stronghold, so much so that it had continuously returned a Conservative MP for 185 years. Hence why it was one of the greatest shock results in history back in 2017 when incumbent Sir Julian Brazier was unseated by Labour’s Rosie Duffield by a margin of just 187 votes. Now the outcome on 12 December is anyone’s guess, with several factors set to influence the election in Canterbury.
Firstly is the student vote. Canterbury is a prominent university city, home to Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury College and the University of Kent. The student vote heavily swayed support in favour of Labour and against an old-school Conservative long-timer the last time around, aided by a prominent Momentum presence and social media campaign in the area. The Conservative candidate Anna Frith will be hoping that a lot of the students will have gone home for Christmas this time round, which could have an impact on the vote in the Conservative’s favour.
But Brexit introduces another complication to the Canterbury mix and yet another Brexit headache for voters. The constituency voted 51% in favour of leaving the European Union in 2016, reflecting that of the national result. This means that all parties think they have a high chance of attracting votes in accordance with their Brexit position. What Canterbury is left with is the Tory/Brexit divide on the Leave side, and the Labour/Lib Dem divide on the Remain side.
Canterbury could be a bellwether seat come December 12th. Ultimately, Johnson will need to win seats like Canterbury back if he is to have any chance of achieving the solid majority he wants and needs.
In a few weeks’ time, we are set for a Canterbury Tale like no other.