I ask that question as I do not know the answer to it. David Jones has always struck me as a very able minister. He is a former Secretary of State for Wales. He is an experienced operator, and along with David Davis and colleagues, has managed to build-up a department from scratch in just under a year.
Jones is also a Leaver. He was very effective in Wales during last year’s EU Referendum. What is Theresa May up to? After performing so badly at the polls last week, the fears of many that she is preparing to water down Brexit will resurface. After Jones’ sacking, the optics are bad.
Has she learned anything from her humiliation last week?
In some ways, this is a difficult one to call. According to Paddy Power, the betting is going the Conservatives’ way.
In the 2010 general election, Victoria Ayling was the Conservative candidate, and she very nearly unseated Austin Mitchell. His majority was just 714, however, that result has to be viewed through the prism of the expenses scandal. Austin Mitchell announced he would stand down in 2015 and Melanie Onn was selected as the Labour candidate. She won the seat with a 4,540 majority, with Victoria Ayling this time standing for UKIP.
Although Melanie Onn had moved away from Grimsby, she was born and raised in the town. That should go in her favour, but this election has to be viewed through the prism of Brexit. A massive 69.9 per cent of voters in North East Lincolnshire voted Leave in last year’s referendum. Melanie Onn campaigned for Remain. Will this do her irreparable damage? If this had been Austin Mitchell standing again (a veteran Labour Eurosceptic who campaigned for Leave), I would have called this for Labour. All it will take for the Conservatives to win this seat is for them to grab a little over half of UKIP’s vote. This is not even factoring-in the swing from Labour to the Conservatives that is expected nationally. But don’t be surprised if many will stick with Labour because they always have done, and because the Labour candidate is a daughter of the town.