Could a ‘local working-class kid’ unseat Boris Johnson at the next election? | Politics News


Never in British history has an incumbent prime minister lost their seat in an election.

Ali Milani, the Labour candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, is hoping to make history.

Iranian-born Milani – who came to the UK aged four and grew up on a nearby council estate – admits that when he was first selected to take on Boris Johnson he was aiming to merely change the conversation rather than actually win the seat.

Ali Milani – the Labour candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip – is hoping to make history.

But in the 2017 election, when Labour outperformed expectations, Mr Johnson saw his majority halved to 5,034.

Ali Milani tells me that he has benefited from being in such a high-profile fight – and the chance to unseat Mr Johnson has led to volunteers flooding in and support from groups like Momentum.

“For me, part of the reason why I’m so excited and I have so much energy in this campaign, is does our democracy have that capacity to allow a young, working-class kid – a local – to unseat a prime minister?”

But how likely is it that Mr Johnson loses his seat at the next election?

polarising politician as Mr Johnson, opinions were split.
In 2017 Mr Johnson’s majority was cut by more than half to just 5,034 votes

According to analysis from Ian Warren of Election Data, the Conservatives are likely to hold on, with the Lib Dems taking support from both Labour and the Tories.

His analysis is backed up by pollsters like Deborah Mattinson, who believe Mr Johnson will be helped locally and nationally by the fact that Mr Johnson’s personal ratings outperform Jeremy Corbyn’s.

Demographic changes to the seat work against the Conservative leader, with an influx of students and young families, and rapid change in diversity. The white British population has fallen 16% in the past decade – making it one of the fastest changing in terms of ethnic diversity.

Boris Johnson's constituency for Uxbridge and South Ruislip
Boris Johnson’s constituency for Uxbridge and South Ruislip

When I spoke to people in Uxbridge, as expected with such a polarising politician as Mr Johnson, opinions were split.

I only had to mention the prime minister when one woman spluttered: “Don’t you ever mention that name in front of me, that filthy piece of toe rag.”

Some young Labour voters said they “hated” the Conservatives, while one woman informed me that her six-year-old daughter referred to him as “that silly man with the hair”.

But I was also struck by the strength of the support for the local MP – particularly from those who voted Leave.

Johnson was parachuted into the constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip in 2015
Johnson was parachuted into the constituency of Uxbridge and South Ruislip in 2015

One man told me: “It seems like he wants to do what he’s saying, he’s said he wants to get us out and hopefully by the end of the month he’ll do it.” While a woman said: “I think he’s got an impossible task. I do think he’s determined to do well and he does have the interests of the country at heart.”

Even a Lib Dem supporting Remain voter acknowledged: “I think he’s trying his best to get Brexit done – whether it should be done is a different question.”

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Crucially for Mr Johnson, this group may give him the benefit of the doubt if he is forced into a Brexit extension at the end of the month. Success at the next election could come down to whether the PM convinces Leave voters that parliament is to blame if the UK still hasn’t left the EU by the time the country goes to the polls.

Mr Milani recently told the Financial Times: “It’s not a question of if, but when, Labour win here.”

But with an election expected sooner rather than later, it seems unlikely that history will be made this time around.


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