The Liberal Democrats now have some of the Conservatives’ biggest names in their sights following their stunning North Shropshire by-election victory.
The party is targeting 30 Tory seats, all of which strategists claim it will win even if it can secure swings of half the 34 per cent that it did in Shropshire.
Number seven on its list is the seat of the Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab in Esher and Walton.
Mr Raab holds a slim 2,743 majority, compared to the Tories’ 22,949 majority the party held in North Shropshire until Helen Morgan took the seat from the Conservatives for the first time in 200 years.
The poll was forced upon Mr Johnson following the resignation of Owen Paterson after he was found committed an “egregious” breach of lobbying rules.
Top of the party’s list is the former health and transport minister Stephen Hammond, who holds a wafer-thin 628 majority in Wimbledon.
Another big Tory beast in Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey’s sights is the South West Surrey seat of former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, as is the Wokingham seat of veteran Tory backbencher John Redwood.
Indeed, Luke Hall’s 12,369 majority in Thornbury and Yate is under threat if the Lib Dems can get close to half the swing of that in North Shropshire in the next national poll. Mr Hall’s is the 30th constituency on the Lib Dems’ target list.
Andrew George, the Lib Dem MP for St Ives in Cornwall from 1997 to 2015, has been buoyed by the result in Shropshire.
He is confident he can win the seat from his Conservative rival Derek Thomas if he is again selected to represent his party at the next general election. “No Tory seat is safe now,” he said.
Mr Thomas, who is likely to have to defend his 4,280 majority against Mr George, was contacted for comment but did not respond.
Mr George added: “Even taking account of the exceptional nature of by-elections, it feels like enough of the electorate have finally rumbled the Johnsonian Tories. When the mask slips, we see a ‘one-rule-for-us-and-another-for-the-rest-of-you’ mutually reinforcing elite who are happy to take the country for fools.”
Ed Davey added “the party is over” for Mr Johnson after his party’s by-election win.
“This is the second stunning by-election victory this year for the Liberal Democrats – both in formerly safe Conservative seats,” said Mr Davey. “From Buckinghamshire to Shropshire, lifelong Conservatives have turned to the Liberal Democrats in their droves and sent a clear message to the Prime Minister that the party is over.”