General Election seats to watch: South-west England

By Ian Jones, PA

A total of 27 seats are in play in south-west England at this election – and 23 of them are being defended by the Conservatives.

This is a region where the Tories are very much on the defensive, and where both Labour and the Liberal Democrats are out to make gains.

It is the Lib Dems who are hoping to achieve the most progress, in an area of the country that used to be one of their heartlands.

Up to a dozen Tory-held seats could potentially fall to the Lib Dems on December 12, ranging from St Ives (which needs a tiny 0.3% swing to change hands) to Truro & Falmouth (14.7%).

In two of those 12 seats, Devon North and Truro & Falmouth, the previous Tory MP has stood down and a fresh, untested candidate has taken their place – something the Lib Dems hope will boost their chances.

Other seats like Cheltenham and Yeovil had a long history of returning Lib Dem MPs throughout the 1990s and 2000s, only to switch to the Conservatives in the 2010s.

(PA graphic)

The Tories will need to watch out for Labour as well, who are targeting places like Camborne & Redruth (which would change hands on a swing of 1.7%), Swindon South (2.4%) and Filton & Bradley Stoke (4.2%).

Labour is also targeting Truro & Falmouth, making that seat a three-horse race.

Things are not entirely grim for the Tories, however.

There are four chances for the party to make a gain.

Three of them are from Labour, in the seats of Stroud, Bristol North West and Plymouth Sutton & Devonport.

The fourth is the seat of Bath, which the Lib Dems won from the Tories in 2017.

Overall, the 27 seats in play comprise roughly a half of all the constituencies in south-west England (55).

With so much potential for seats to change hands, south-west England will be one of the most important battlegrounds of this election.