Dominic Raab’s seat in ‘leafy’ Surrey has long been one of the strongest Conservative strongholds in the UK. The blue team have been dutifully elected in every election since the seat’s creation in 1997, and usually by stonking great margins.
But Brexit changes everything, and for the first time Esher and Walton might be in play. The Liberal Democrats won here comfortably in the European elections and they are now hoping that their candidate Monica Harding can achieve one of the greatest scalps of all time and unseat Raab. The seat voted by almost 60-40 to remain in the EU, and Raab’s role as Brexit Secretary – and a hardline one at that – will not sit well with his constituents.
Raab is also far from a beloved local MP. He is certainly not someone who is constantly out and about, shaking hands and tackling local issues. That will change now, but is it too little too late? The Lib Dem ground operation has been relentless in the area, with leaflets flying around left, right and centre, and every door in the constituency likely to receive at least one knock before polling day. Jo Swinson has been in town to visit a local school, and Monica Harding is getting her name around as fast as she can.
It is one to watch, but despite all of the above, this may well be a stretch too far. Dominic Raab’s majority is currently 23,298 and that is over Labour – the Lib Dems are in third! The momentum is clearly all in one direction, with polling by Survation finding that the Lib Dems have narrowed the gap to 9% from 39%. But with the Brexit Party now due to stand down, and given the size of Raab’s cushion, he will still go into election day as the favourite.
He could be scared though, for the first time ever.