UK General Election 2019: What Happens if Boris Johnson Loses His Seat?

Boris Johnson

Credit: katatonia82 / bigstock

The upcoming UK General Election is going to be fought for feverishly up and down England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Some seats are safe as houses: there’s little that can go wrong for the mainstream parties or the likes of SNP and DUP in their rocksteady constituencies.

But elsewhere, the general vibe is that there is all to play for.

One interesting narrative that has reared its head is that the Conservatives could win a majority at the polls but Boris Johnson could still be deposed as Prime Minister by losing his seat.

Boris is the leader of the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency, but in the 2017 election his majority was cut to just over 5,000 votes – not a great amount, relatively speaking.

And now there is a growing anti-Boris movement in the area which could see the most incredible political coup of the modern era – in contemporary UK politics, no Prime Minister has ever lost their seat in an election.

Labours Local Candidate: Ali Milani

There is plenty of negative feeling towards the bouffant wearing PM. Since taking the top job he has rarely visited the area, according to constituents, and lives tens of miles away. People in the area are said to be craving a ‘local’ candidate who understands the issues that they are facing.

And that person could well be Ali Milani, an Iranian immigrant who will stand for Labour. He attended the local Brunel University, still lives in the area and as a practicing Muslim will enjoy a large vote percentage – particularly against a Prime Minister who has done very little to shake up the ‘Islamophobic’ tag that has dogged him and some within his party.

A letter penned by various pro-remain groups has called for tactical voting across the UK, and has pleaded with the Lib Dems to stop their candidate from standing in the Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency to reduce the risk of the Remain vote being split.

It’s unlikely they will, but if Jo Swinson was open to the suggestion then Boris’ 5,000 vote majority could soon look very fragile indeed.

Where is Uxbridge and South Ruislip?

Uxbridge and South Ruislip Constituency

The constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip takes in the London Borough of Hillingdon, to the west of Greater London.

It is an area split almost completely in half by the A40, and one side you have the likes of Eastcote, an affluent area where the life expectancy is some 84 years old. This is a staunch Tory heartland.

To the south of the A40 is Botwell, a working-class suburb of council houses and tenement tower blocks. You’ll do well to live to 74 here, according to the stats, and this is the area that Labour will be targeting most fervently.

One of the hot potatoes locally has been the building of a third runway at Heathrow Airport, which will increase noise and pollution in the area.

As London mayor, Boris said he would ‘lie down with protestors in front of bulldozers’ to prevent the runway being built. Alas, when it went to a vote the PM strangely abstained….

Boris Johnson lying….whatever next!

Could Boris Actually Lose?

In the 2017 election in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, Boris won with a majority of 5,034 – the smallest win for an active prime minister since 1924.

That said, you have to go back to 1906 to find the last time a PM did lost their seat, and that’s partly because Arthur Balfour has already resigned from the job when going to the polls.

As the top dog, you really shouldn’t be losing your seat, historically speaking, and especially when Uxbridge and South Ruislip has been a Tory heartland since its foundation in 2010 .

Back in April, the group Onward had classed Johnson as ‘vulnerable’ in any election in 2019, but YouGov have much more recently posted their own verdict as ‘likely Conservative’.

To lose his seat, Boris would need to lose roughly 6% of his vote share. It’s not impossible, especially if a pact is made between Labour and the other Remain parties, and if Milani can mobilise the large student population of the area – more than 10,000 Brunel Uni students are eligible to vote – then that gap could shorten yet further.

There is also a creeping anti-Brexit sentiment to consider too. In 2016, Hillingdon was one of just four London Borough’s to vote Leave, with 56% of the poll. But a recent opinion poll reported in The Observer showed that today around 51.4% of voters in the constituency would have opted for Remain.

What Would Happen if Boris Did Lose?

The Conservative Party constitution dictates that their leader ‘shall be drawn from those elected to Parliament’, which if he lost Boris would no longer be.

He could, however, appoint himself as a Lord, which would enable him to rule from the Commons – a tactic deployed by the Marquess of Salisbury in the early 1900s.

Of course, if he was to lose the demand for Boris to resign would be insurmountable – from inside and outside the Conservative Party.

However, disclaimer time, it is highly unlikely that he will lose given his odds with the bookies of 1/9 imply a 90% chance of him winning.

That said, stranger things have happened….