LONDON — Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron and his predecessor Nick Clegg are both at serious risk of losing their seats at the general election.
Conservatives in Farron’s Westmorland and Lonsdale seat are confident of pulling off a remarkable victory in Cumbria, while a drop in Lib Dem support in Sheffield Hallam has Labour confident that it can unseat Clegg, party sources have told Business Insider.
The Telegraph’s Ben Riley-Smith reported last week that Cumbrian Tories are working on a “take-out Tim” strategy to unseat the Lib Dem leader and win back the Westmorland and Lonsdale seat the party lost in 2005.
Conservative sources have confirmed this to Business Insider, claiming that Tory activists in Westmorland and Lonsdale are “throwing lots of money and resources” at the seat amid growing confidence that Theresa May can wrench it from Farron’s grasp.
“They are throwing the kitchen sink at it and having a lot of fun up there,” the Conservative candidate told us.
Meanwhile, in Sheffield, the local Labour Party is confident of unseating former deputy prime minister Clegg, who has been the MP for Sheffield Hallam since 2005. Local Tories are wary of the threat posed by Labour, too.
Clegg defeated Labour’s Oliver Coppard by 4.2% in 2015 but Labour’s candidate this time around, Jared O’Mara, fancies his chances of overturning this margin and winning the seat the Lib Dems have held since 1997.
Labour sources believe many former-Conservative voters who backed Clegg in 2015 to make sure Labour didn’t win the seat are not set to vote tactically this time around, paving the way for Labour to leapfrog the Lib Dems to victory.
Farron and Clegg losing their seats would undoubtedly be one of the biggest stories of election night. The party has come into the snap election pledging to double its number of seats in Commons amid talk of a Lib Dem revival fuelled by Remain-voting Brits who want to oppose Brexit. However, the party is yet to surge in the polls, while YouGov research published this week shows 68% of Brits want Brexit to happen, including 23% that voted Remain in June.
Having initially been tipped for a resurgence, the Lib Dems could be set to lose its two biggest names on June 8.
What would it take for Farron and Clegg to lose?
Clegg, who was David Cameron’s deputy in the coalition government, has held Sheffield Hallam since 1997 but at the last election received 13.4% less than he received in 2010. Clegg won in 2015 but with a slim majority of 2,353. If the feeling within the local Labour Party is right and floating voters who backed Clegg in 2015 decide to cast their votes elsewhere, Labour would be in a strong position to win Sheffield Hallam, assuming its local vote holds up.
A loss for Farron would take something much more spectacular. The Lib Dem leader won the Cumbrian seat in 2015 with a huge 18.5% lead over Conservative candidate Ann Myatt, who was runner-up. However, Conservative activists are quietly confident that a campaign centred on the mandate Theresa May claims she requires to negotiate Brexit will resonate with the 45% of residents who are estimated to have voted Leave.
YouGov recently produced some figures into how Britain’s regions plan to vote on June 8. We took these figures and fed them into Electoral Calculus, an online tool for projecting general election results using polling data. As the graphic below illustrates, Farron is set to surrender his seat to the Conservatives, according to these recent figures.
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