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A 2014 by-election in Lansley’s Cambs South would be a battle to relish – and there’s a reasonable chance it could happen

February 10th, 2014

Lansley’s now joint 2nd favourite to be next EU Commissioner

One of the big decisions that the coalition government has to take in the next few months is who should be the next UK EU Commissioner to the take up office in Brussels in the autumn. Lots of names have been mentioned and last week Ladbrokes opened a betting market.

A critical political consideration is that if an MP is appointed then he/she would have to resign their seat and there would be a by-election which would take place at some stage after the May Euro elections. This close to the general election the last thing that Cameron would want to do is provide a platform for a UKIP or LAB victory.

The current betting favourite at 2/1 is the former chief whip, Andrew Mitchell, who had to resign in October 2012 during the Plebgate fracas. Given what’s happened since Cameron owes him one and he has a pretty solid majority in Sutton Coldfield.

A recent ConservativeHome poll had more than 30% backing CON MEP Daniel Hannan but even if Cameron wanted him, which I doubt, it is hard to see Nick Clegg, who has also been tipped by some, agreeing.

    Over the past few days there’s been a rush in the betting for the Cambridgeshire South MP and former Health Secretary, Andrew Lansley. He opened at 16/1 and has now been backed down to 5/1. Even at this price it seems a good bet.

The outcome in 2010 in Cambridgeshire South is featured in the table above. If the LDs had not been part of the coalition for the past four years you would put it down as a likely yellow gain. Labour are nowhere to be seen and UKIP’s performance was hardly special.

While it is hard to envisage the Lib Dems gaining a seat in the current environment you cannot in a by-election rule anything out. On the face of it, though, this looks like a CON hold but what a contest it would be.

UKIP have done far better in locals elections in eastern England, and indeed, the only council that they run is in Cambridgeshire. Lansley’s seat, though, is less natural UKIP territory than elsewhere in the county.

Whatever Cambs South would be a contest to relish.

Mike Smithson

2004-2014: The view from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble