Party leader Tim Farron has said his party is “neck and neck” with the Conservatives in the byelection in North Shropshire, which will be contested by five candidates.
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According to the latest electoral data, a seat which was considered safe for the Conservatives is now in play. The latest YouGov figures suggest that the Tories are down 0.2% on the last time a poll was conducted, while the Lib Dems are up 0.3% on 23 July, giving the party a 9.5% lead. The latest figures come as an IBR/Forsters exit poll showed Theresa May’s party is on just 26% of the vote.
Speaking on LBC Radio, Tim Farron said: “We are neck and neck with the Conservatives. And we are neck and neck in North Shropshire which was previously thought to be a safe Tory seat and yet it is Labour that is moving up – the Tories are slipping.
“This is the Lib Dems – this is us – that is standing up for local people; we are standing up for working families who are being shoved around by hard-working Conservative MPs.
“If you are in industrial Taunton, Minster or Bridgwater and you are faced with the choice between the hard-Brexit UK Conservative party which is in favour of more cuts and less pay to hard-working people and Labour who would actually want more pay in the middle, who want to raise your taxes – that is where we have the best message in the campaign.”
A YouGov poll for the Sunday Times on Thursday, in response to campaigning that has been stepped up by both parties, showed that the Tories were down 0.2% on 24 July. Labour was up 1.3% on 25 July to 39%, which was largely from the party’s first prime ministerial visit to the constituency. The Lib Dems were up 0.3% to 15.3%, leaving them firmly on course to win the seat.
Farron said he did not believe that the Conservatives had the first-past-the-post system in their favour.
“There is an election too far and I’m quite happy with the result that we’ve seen,” he said. “The Tories are either losing ground or going backwards; Labour are moving up and we are narrowing the gap.”
Bookmakers have made the seat a marginal contest, with William Hill placing it at 12/1.