POLLING day is finally here.

In many ways it has been a long and gruelling General Election with winter setting in.

But arguably the stakes have never been higher.

Years ago, Sussex was Conservative stronghold, with only Brighton and occasionally Lewes turning different colours.

How things have changed.

With 16 seats up for grabs in the county, Sam Brooke looks at eight election battles that could prove crucial in deciding who enters No 10.

The Argus:

Brighton Kemptown

Anyone who watched our General Election debate on Monday knows how heated the battle for Brighton Kemptown is.

Labour firebrand Lloyd Russell-Moyle is hoping for re-election after he unseated Conservative Simon Kirby in 2017.

But this time he faces a much tougher fight against strong candidates from all parties.

Two years ago, the Greens stood down in the seat, giving Mr Russell-Moyle a bigger vote share.

But this year they have opted to put up Alexandra Phillips, who has been elected both as a councillor and a Member of European Parliament.

And Tory Joe Miller is also popular locally, though his votes could be sapped by the Brexit Party’s Graham Cushway.

Whatever the result, it will be close.

The Argus:


Lewes has always been a hard-fought seat between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives and this election is no exception.

Tory Maria Caulfield increased her majority here in 2017 after winning the seat from popular Lib Dem Norman Baker four years ago.

But the Lib Dem surge in this June’s European elections will give them confidence in Lewes this time around.

With Brexit a bigger issue by the day and Lewes having narrowly voted Remain in the 2016 referendum, it is possible a few voters could switch to Lib Dem Oli Henman in recoil from Boris Johnson’s Brexit plans.

But Mr Henman’s hopes of unseating Ms Caulfield could be dashed by voters flocking to other pro-EU parties.

The Greens now outnumber the Lib Dems on Lewes District Council following May’s local elections.

And unlike in 2017, they will be running a candidate.

Still, it seems the Conservatives have recognised the precariousness of their seat in Lewes.

Newhaven, a key town in the area, was promised up to £25 million by the Tory Government’s controversial Towns Fund just months ago, a move some call a cynical election ploy.

That same fund also targets Sussex marginals Crawley and Hastings. Could Lewes be in the same ball park tomorrow?

The Argus:

East Worthing and Shoreham

East Worthing and Shoreham has been a major focus for Labour since 2017 candidate Sophie Cook increased her party’s vote share by 20 per cent.

About 5,000 votes separated her from Conservative Tim Loughton, a formerly unthinkable rise in what was a staunch Tory area.

Though the seat is not necessarily a marginal, Labour and left-wing campaign group Momentum have been rallying volunteers to knock on doors in area.

This time their candidate is Adur district councillor Lavinia O’Connor.

She will have reason to be confident after her party doubled its seats on Worthing Borough Council in May’s local elections.

But Mr Loughton will certainly put up a fight for the seat he has held since 1997.

The Argus:

Arundel and South Downs

Arundel and the South Downs has always been a rural Conservative safe seat since it was created in 1997, covering most of Sussex’s countryside towns.

Former MP Nick Herbert served the area for 14 years before stepping down earlier this year.

His intended replacement is former Sky finance director Andrew Griffith, now Boris Johnson’s business adviser.

But there is an outside chance another party could dash his hopes of election.

In 2017 Labour powered to an 11 per cent surge here, a feat it hopes to better today.

Meanwhile Lib Dems have a hope of nabbing the seat after taking control of Arun District Council in this year’s local elections.

The Argus:

Mid Sussex

Former Mid Sussex MP Sir Nicholas Soames made headlines earlier this year when he was kicked out of Conservatives after effectively blocking Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal.

Sir Nicholas is Winston Churchill’s grandson and had represented the party in Parliament since 1983.

He was quickly restored to the party a month later but announced he would not re-contest Mid Sussex.

His Conservative replacement, former sports minister Mims Davies, caused controversy when she was selected as candidate for the seat.

In October she stood down from her original seat, Eastleigh, to spend more time with her family.

But some accused her of fleeing to a safer seat when she announced she would run for Mid Sussex last month.

The Conservatives won the seat with 56 per cent of the vote in 2017, gaining a majority of almost 20,000.

But the Lib Dems could be best placed to eat into that sizeable chunk of voters.

They took 13 seats in the Mid Sussex District Council elections in May, having previously only had one.

And any Conservatives dismayed by their party choosing Ms Davies could well switch their vote to the lib Dems.

Meanwhile Labour will hope for a similar boost they experienced in 2017.

The Argus:


Crawley has been tipped to turn red this year, although news of the Brexit Party withdrawing its candidate from the seat will certainly help Conservative Henry Smith in his re-election bid.

Voters in the town have a tendency to swing whichever way the national vote swings. Mr Smith was elected in 2010 when the Tories took power, but from 1997 onwards Crawley had a Labour MP.

In 2017, Jeremy Corbyn’s party gave the Conservatives a close run, reducing Mr Smith’s majority to about 2,500.

But the Greens had stood aside that year, giving then-Labour candidate Tim Lunnon more of the vote.

This time Peter Lamb, leader of Labour-controlled Crawley Borough Council, will have the Greens and a resurgent Lib Dems to battle with in his bid to unseat the Conservatives.

The Brexit Party’s decision last month to withdraw all its candidates in Tory-held seats has given the Conservatives a lifeline in Crawley.

It was possible a split vote could have left Mr Smith without a job.

The Argus:


When it comes to politics, it has been a turbulent few years for Eastbourne.

After briefly turning blue in 2015, Lib Dem Stephen Lloyd won the seat back for his party two years later.

But last October he resigned from his party after disagreeing with his colleagues’ Brexit position.

Mr Lloyd had pledged to support Brexit as Eastbourne voted to leave the EU by 57 per cent.

But now Mr Lloyd has rejoined the Lib Dems and pledged to stop Brexit in a stunning U-turn.

Whether this will help or harm his re-election bid remains to be seen.

The Lib Dems are still a popular party in Eastbourne having held on to Eastbourne Borough Council in May’s local elections.

But Conservative candidate Caroline Ansell’s pro-Brexit message could resonate for voters unhappy about Mr Lloyd’s change of heart.

Her bid to take the town could be hindered by the Brexit Party, whose candidate Stephen Gander could well split the vote.

And with the Greens not running in Eastbourne, it could well tip the scales in the Lib Dems’ favour.

The Argus:

Hastings and Rye

Hastings and Rye is the marginal to end all marginals.

Former Tory Work and Pensions Secretary Amber Rudd held on to her seat her in 2017 by just 346 votes.

Though Labour will not be able to claim the former Cabinet minister’s scalp now she has quit politics, the party is gunning to finally take the seat it has not held since 2010.

Hastings Borough Council leader Peter Chowney is once again the party’s candidate.

But this time he faces Conservative Sally-Ann Hart who has caused some controversy this election.

She was booed at a hustings last week after defending an article from disability charity chief Rosa Monckton which proposed paying people with learning disabilities less than the minimum wage.

And the Conservatives have confirmed she is now under investigation for anti-Semitism after she allegedly shared a video linking the EU with Jewish billionaire George Soros.