What voters are saying in Surrey's 'safest' Tory seat the day before the general election

It could come as a surprise for Reigate to be considered the safest Conservative seat in the county in the general election, with Claire Coutinho just across the border in East Surrey, but YouGov suggests it to be the case. In its Multilevel Regression and Post-stratification poll (MRP), the market research and data analytics firm gave the Tories 36.4 per cent of the Reigate vote, ahead of East Surrey's 34.4 per cent.

The constituency centred on the Surrey market town was represented by Crispin Blunt, an independent Member of Parliament who had the Conservative whip removed following his arrest on suspicion of rape and possession of controlled substances in October. Although released under investigation in April, the one-time justice minister is not seeking re-election. He denies the allegations and said he will “co-operate fully” with the investigation and is “confident” he will not be charged.

Waving goodbye to one of her summer holiday bound students, Julie Badman took YouGov's projection with a pinch of salt: "Is it as safe as everyone thinks it is? I don't think anything's safe until you know the result, to be honest." Although sceptical, Julie pointed to a number of factors which might have lead YouGov to its projection, such as demographics and history.

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Reigate has long been a Tory stronghold, having continuously voted for the embattled party since the nineteenth century. This was an important factor for Tom Vos, a sales consultant who recently moved into the area, who said: "It's clearly an affluent area and I believe the Conservatives have been in power for a long time. I guess that's why they feel it's safe."

As a weather front came in to ruin the sunshine, the sales consultant poured cold water on any thoughts of a sure Conservative win: "Is it safe? I don't know. I think with some people moving over to the Reform Party, the Liberal Democrats may be coming back a little bit in terms of being a third voice, or saying something slightly different, I feel there is some cause for concern for them there."

A view of Reigate's busy high street. There are lots of people and shops and vehicles.
"It's an affluent area," said Eloise Morris -Credit:Charles Elliman

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the non-metropolitan district of Reigate and Banstead is one of the wealthiest in the country. Reigate's average gross disposable house income is over eight thousand pounds higher than the UK average; Reigate's employment rate is about 13 per cent higher; and the provisional average house price (£472,000) is nearly £200,000 more than the British average (£284,000).

Caught trying to lunch peacefully, Eloise Morris remarked: "It's an affluent area." The NHS operating department practitioner and dog trainer added: "There's a lot of money here and the Conservatives are more beneficial to people who have more money than people who don't."

"I think people from Reigate are a bit removed. They call it a 'bubble,'" said Harold Anuta. Harold, an engineer used to identifying issues, added: "If you go to Redhill it's a completely different set of different challenges there. So, I'm not surprised."

A view of Reigate's old brick town hall and its clock tower.
"I think people from Reigate are a bit removed," said Harold Anuta. -Credit:Charles Elliman

Although YouGov suggests Reigate is safely blue, other polls contradict their calculation, such as Survation's (which was released on Wednesday, July 3). The organisation, another polling and market research agency, estimates Labour will win the constituency, which has never voted red, with a vote share of 32 per cent.

Asked their opinions on both the leaders of the two main parties contending for power, moods were as damp for Sir Keir Starmer as they were for the former Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. Despite finding the Labour leader appealing as a "possible change from the Conservatives," Julie remarked: "I'm always slightly disappointed with some of the answers he gives to questions, because I want him to be direct and non-politician like."

Quizzed on her opinion of the former Chief Prosecutor, Elois laughed: "Keir Starmer? Not sure there's many good options at the moment, unfortunately."

Reigate General Election candidates 2024 were given 100 words to sell themselves to you. The candidates for Reigate this election are:

  • Stuart Brady (Labour)

  • Jonathan Essex (Green)

  • Joseph Fox (Reform)

  • Mark Johnston (Liberal Democrat)

  • Rebecca Paul (Conservative)

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