Election night guide: which seats to watch out for and when

Written by David Singleton and John Ashmore on 8 June 2017 in Features

Here are the top 16 constituencies that are worth staying up for.

Once the polls close at 10pm, the broadcasters will publish their joint BBC/ITV/Sky exit poll and pundits will spend the next hour or so chewing over the findings.

And then the real fun begins with Houghton and Sunderland South and Newcastle East both hoping to be the first constituency to declare a result.



10.40pm:  And we’re off!

Seat: Houghton and Sunderland South

Traditionally the first to declare, Houghton and Sunderland South must get the result by 10.41pm if they are to beat their own record for the fastest declaration on election night. Labour’s Bridget Phillipson should be safe with a big majority of almost 13,000. The key thing to look out for here is Ukip voters switching to the Tories. The Kippers came second in 2015. A substantial swing from Ukip to the Tories would suggest that Theresa May is set to do well elsewhere.



1245am: Will Greening be put out to pasture?

Seat: Putney

If Jeremy Corbyn is doing really well then education secretary Justine Greening could be the first big beast to fall in Putney. It would be some achievement, given that Greening has a substantial 10,000 majority. The Tories are confident that Greening can survive, but optimistic Labour sources say the conditions are favourable in the cosmopolitan west London constituency. It has a reasonably high count of young professionals, students and ethnic minority voters – all of whom who tend to be favourable towards Corbyn.



1am: Can Corbyn succeed where Miliband failed?

Seat: Nuneaton

The first key bellwether to come in. Nuneaton tends to swing with the overall winner, which is why everyone knew that Ed Miliband was in trouble in the last general election. In 2015, Labour had hoped to win the Warwickshire seat, but Tory Marcus Jones cantered home with a comfortable 5,000 majority. A Labour win would suggest that the Tories are not going to maintain their majority. That’s unlikely, but if Labour can return the Nuneaton to the marginal status it had in 2005 and 2010 then Jeremy Corbyn may still have a dog in the fight.



1.30am: Has May cracked the north east?

Seat: Darlington

The first seat to give a clear clue as to whether Theresa May’s strategy of targeting the north east has been successful. The constituency has been Labour since 1992 but shadow Brexit minister Jenny Chapman only has a majority of around 3,000. And Labour did badly in the local elections. The Tories are hoping despite the fact that candidate Peter Cuthbertson recently hit the headlines for having written some strange things about rape, homosexuality and morality in the early 2000s.



2am: Could Rudd be a dud?

Seat: Hastings and Rye

It is a good night indeed for Jeremy Corbyn if the seat held by the home secretary turns red. Amber Rudd has a majority of around 5,000, but the handful of polls that favour Labour’s chances suggest the party could steal her Sussex coastal seat. If so it would be a huge scalp. Rudd was the star play for Team Theresa in the election - and is well positioned to be the next chancellor if she sees off the Labour threat in her constituency.



2.30am:  What says Jez?

Seat: Islington North

Jeremy Corbyn is defending a whopping 22.00 majority here. Potentially more revealing than the final figures will be Corbyn’s victory speech. Will he be sounding triumphant or hubristic? Or will he already be getting his excuses in?



3am: Will Aker be the Ukip pacemaker?

Seat: Thurrock

A fascinating three-way Con/Lab/Ukip marginal – and perhaps the seat in which Ukip stands the best chance of winning. In fact, it’s about the only seat area where Kippers are talking a good game. In 2015, Conservative Jackie Doyle Price won it with a majority of 974. Ukip candidate Tim Aker is hoping to step in to her shoes, but has Theresa May squeezed his party out?



330am: Will Kate pay for her date with Nigel?

Seat: Vauxhall

The Liberal Democrats have been making a concerted effort to oust Kate Hoey out of Vauxhall mainly by alerting voters to the fact that Hoey spent much of the EU referendum hanging out with Nigel Farage. Local Lib Dems have also distributed a leaflet showing Hoey’s face merged with Farage. The good news for the Lib Dems is that 78% of residents here backed remain. The bad news is that Hoey has a 12,000 majority and the Lib Dems came fourth behind the Greens in 2015.



4am: Will Zac get whacked (again)?

Seat: Richmond Park

After his humiliating by-election defeat, Zac Goldsmith is hoping that the people of Richmond Park and North Kingston will ignore the fact that he voted for Brexit and reconsider their verdict. Were he to lose again, many Tory insiders would be sad to see the demise of a man who was previously one of their most promising politicians. Many Labour supporters would find it very amusing.



4am: Moment of truth for Ruth?

Seat: Aberdeen South

The SNP’s Callum McCaig has a healthy 9,000 plus majority in the granite city, but this seat is in the Tories’ sights this time after a strong performance in the Scottish parliamentary elections from candidate Ross Thomson. Taking this seat – a surprise win for John Major in 1992 – would be the sign of a very good night indeed for the Scottish Tories… and yet another boost for Ruth Davidson’s chances of being next Tory leader.



4am: Can Clive survive?

Seat: Norwich South

If Labour has a bad night then one significant casualty could be Clive Lewis. Labour insiders are optimistic that Lewis’ 7,000 majority will be enough to save him in the pro-Remain seat. But they are taking nothing for granted after some worrying polling mid-way through the campaign. If Lewis was to lose his seat it would be a huge blow for the many Labour supporters, such as The Guardian’s Own Jones, who fancy Lewis as the most credible left wing successor to Corbyn.



4.30am: Last orders at the Barwell?

Seat: Croydon Central

Labour have high hopes for Tory scalp in this this key marginal. Housing minister Gavin Barwell has a tiny majority of 165 and Labour has been polling well in London. But Barwell is a tough opponent. Not only is he a liberal Tory and a Remainer, he is also an accomplished and energetic campaigner - and the author of a book about ‘how to win a marginal seat’.



5am: Will Dennis get skinned?

Seat: Bolsover

Home of the Beast himself, Dennis Skinner. This Derbyshire constituency ought to be safe Labour territory but we’re told the Tories are going after one of Jeremy Corbyn’s keenest supporters in the hope of a ‘Portillo moment’ of their own.



5am: Silence of the Lamb?

Seat: North Norfolk

Former care minister Norman Lamb is the last remaining Lib Dem in the East of England. But he faces a tough fight to cling on to the constituency he has held since 2001. Ominously for Lamb, the region voted in favour of Brexit. So he has been downplaying the national Lib Dem message and instead relying on his local credentials and his track record in the constituency to get him over the line.



5am: Tim’s great southern saviour?

Seat: St Albans

This seat was initially 57th on the Lib Dem target seat list. But in the last week or so, the party has made St Albans one of its top targets after unexpectedly promising results in the county council elections. The pro-Remain constituency is home to many voters who work in central London. It is held by the Conservative Anne Main, who has a 12,000 plus majority – but campaigned for Leave. A stunning Lib Dem victory in St Albans would help to cushion the blow of defeats elsewhere in the country for Tim Farron. As long as he hasn't already lost his own seat, that is...



6am: The test case for tactical voting

Seat: Brighton Kemptown

Possibly one of the last seats to come in is also one of the test cases for the progressive tactical voting. Tory MP Simon Kirby has a wafer-thin majority and the Greens have stood down their candidate to give Labour a better chance of victory. So if Labour succeeds in overturning Kirby's 690 majority, then you could say that Jeremy Corbyn owes Caroline Lucas a pint.



All pictures by Press Association.


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