LBC Views: PM may face party backlash after Lib Dem victory, writes Theo Usherwood

19 June 2021, 10:56 | Updated: 19 June 2021, 11:22

Tory MPs are extremely nervous after Lib Dem win
Tory MPs are extremely nervous after Lib Dem win. Picture: LBC
Theo Usherwood

By Theo Usherwood

Theo Usherwood reflects on the Lib Dem's monumental by-election win in Chesham and Amersham in his LBC view.

It was an astonishing result by any measure.

The Lib Dems won Chesham and Amersham with a swing of more than 25% - their candidate Sarah Green now enjoying a majority of 8,000. 

There are perhaps three major implications from this result.

Firstly, the Prime Minister will be forced to water down or completely abandon his planning reforms to ensure the green belt is protected. 

This will of course dent his ability to hit his target of building 300,000 homes a year.

But Conservative MPs in similar seats are nervous. Many sit on smaller majorities than the one of 16,000 Dame Cheryl Gillan had built up before her death in April.

Boris Johnson will not fancy the battle with his backbenchers on this one and this is - to its bones - a populist Government. If the people don’t want homes built on the green belt, then the people won’t have homes built on the green belt.

Secondly, the win for Sir Ed Davey’s party will only underline the case for a coalition of left-of-centre parties.

Labour lost its deposit, having won more than 7,000 votes back in 2019; the Lib Dems the ultimate beneficiaries of the decision by Sir Keir Starmer to soft pedal in this particular contest. 

And if the party of Nick Clegg and Paddy Ashdown wanted to underscore its ability to win big in Tory heartland seats in the Home Counties, then they certainly made their case in the Chilterns.

However, there is always the caveat that general elections are very different to by-elections. Local issues get drowned out as the country concentrates its collective mind on who it wants to be PM. 

The third big implication from Friday’s result is that the Tories have concentrated their fire on Labour, especially when it comes to the Culture Wars issues around taking the knee, and statues. 

The Lib Dems have escaped the rows unscathed. Expect that to change in the very near future.