General election 2017: 10 seats where Brexit could be a factor

By Peter Barnes
Senior Elections and Political Analyst, BBC News

  • Published
Clifton suspension bridgeImage source, Getty Images
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Bristol West - which strongly backed Remain - is one constituency where Brexit could sway voters

Many voters say Brexit is an important factor in the election. So which seats could be affected?

When Theresa May announced that she wanted to hold an early election, her Downing Street statement focused almost exclusively on Brexit.

She said the election was necessary to "guarantee certainty and stability" throughout the withdrawal negotiations.

Opinion polls suggest that Brexit is also one of the most important issues for voters. So the result of last year's referendum is certain to have an impact on 8 June.

Across the UK, 52% of people voted for Leave and 48% for Remain. But support for Leave was much stronger than that in some places - whilst in others a large majority of voters backed Remain.

We do not know the precise result in every constituency. Except for Northern Ireland, the referendum results were counted and declared at local council level rather than parliamentary constituency level.

Some councils have released more localised breakdowns of votes which have made it possible to calculate constituency results.

Here, Dr Chris Hanretty at the University of East Anglia has used the figures we do have, along with statistics about the demographic make-up of each constituency, to produce estimates of how every constituency voted.

These estimates will not be 100% accurate - but they can tell us which constituencies voted decisively for Leave and Remain.

Brexit could determine who wins some constituencies. And there will be many other seats where, even if it doesn't tip the overall outcome, it will have an impact on the size of the majority.

Leave constituencies

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Estimated votes for Leave: Clwyd South (60%), Morley & Outwood (60%), Torbay (62%), Isle of Wight (62%), Hartlepool (70%)

Clwyd South in north Wales is one of a large group of Labour constituencies across Wales, the Midlands and the North of England that voted strongly to leave the EU.

If the Conservatives can convince voters they are the best party to deliver Brexit, that could help them win a substantial majority.

Other seats in this category include Derbyshire North East, Wakefield, Stoke-on-Trent South, Blackpool South and Scunthorpe.

In many places, simply convincing UKIP voters to switch to the Conservatives would be enough.

There are 67 Labour constituencies across the country where the majority is smaller than the number of votes received by UKIP in 2015.

And in quite a few of those there is no UKIP candidate this time.

Image source, AFP
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Mrs May will be targeting Labour-held pro-Brexit constituencies like Stoke-on-Trent South

There are also strongly pro-Brexit constituencies in these regions where the Conservatives are defending, such as Morley & Outwood which they took from Labour's Ed Balls in 2015.

In those places, the plan will be to shore up their majority with support from Leave voters.

Further south, the Conservatives also have to see off challenges from other parties.

Torbay is one of the Liberal Democrats' top targets but their demand for a second referendum on the Brexit deal may not go down well in a constituency that voted 62% for Leave.

The party faces the same issue in Yeovil and Cornwall North.

The Isle of Wight is not a marginal constituency but the Green Party has been talking up its their chances there and hopes to benefit from tactical voting.

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The Green Party is bidding to gain the Isle of Wight seat

They probably won't be helped by the islanders' views on Brexit - 62% voted to Leave.

The Greens also want a second referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal with the option to stay in the EU.

UKIP is pinning its hopes on winning over voters who backed Brexit.

One of its top targets is Labour-held Hartlepool, where support for Leave was 70%.

In 2015, it fell short by just over 3,000 votes. A swing of 4% would be enough for UKIP to take it this time.

Remain constituencies

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Estimated votes for Remain: Brighton Kemptown (56%), Ealing Central (71%), Oxford West & Abingdon (62%), Aberdeen South (68%), Bristol West (79%)

The flipside to the Conservatives' strategy in Leave seats is that voters who backed Remain may not feel comfortable supporting them if they don't like the approach Mrs May has taken.

Brighton Kemptown, with a Conservative majority of just 690, is one of Labour's top targets.

It also had a clear majority of Remain voters.

Furthermore, this is one of the seats where the Greens have said they'll stand aside, specifically with the intention of helping Labour to win.

They have taken the same decision in Ealing Central & Acton but this time to help Labour defend the seat.

Ealing is second on the Conservative target list with a majority of just 274. But 71% of voters backed Remain which might make their job harder.

Other Remain constituencies on the Labour defence list include Hampstead & Kilburn and Hove.

The Lib Dems are pitching even more clearly for Remain voters.

Image source, PA
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The Greens and Lib Dems agreed to not stand against each other in two Brighton constituencies

Oxford West & Abingdon has a sizeable Conservative majority but with 62% of voters backing Remain the outcome is not a done deal.

Again, the Greens are standing aside and the Lib Dems will also be hoping for tactical votes from Labour supporters.

Other Conservative-held Remain constituencies in their sights include Bath, Twickenham and Kingston & Surbiton.

They will also argue in some Labour constituencies that their position on Brexit is clearer. Targets include Cambridge and Bermondsey & Old Southwark.

In Scotland, the Conservatives have enjoyed a significant revival.

They doubled their representation in the Scottish Parliament at last year's election.

But Brexit could make things harder for them in some constituencies this year.

Aberdeen South has been suggested as a potential gain from the SNP, which currently holds all but but three of the seats in Scotland, but it voted 68% for Remain.

Finally, Bristol West is one of the most strongly anti-Brexit constituencies in the country, with 79% of voters backing Remain.

The Lib Dems lost it to Labour in 2015 and will be seeking to regain it this time.

But the Greens start in second place and will argue that they can represent pro-EU voters just as well.