If Simon Kirby is feeling the pressure of defending one of the most marginal seats in the country, he isn’t letting it show.
The Conservative Treasury Minister won Brighton Kemptown from Labour in 2010 with a majority of just 1,328.
Two years he held off a determined challenge from Labour candidate Nancy Platts and retained his seat in the House of Commons with a reduced majority of 690 votes.
It is the ninth or tenth most marginal seat held by the Tories, depending on whether the majority is measured by the number or percentage of votes.
Mr Kirby told the BBC today (Wednesday 7 June) that to defend a marginal seat, it was important to be calm.
The 52-year-old former pub company owner said: “The wonderful thing about democracy is it’s the people that decide. All you can do is my best.
“I am confident but it will be close and will be a very marginal seat probably for the next 50 years too.”
He appears to have concentrated his campaign in the eastern half of the constituency – Ovingdean, Rottingdean, Woodingdean, Saltdean, Peacehaven and Telscombe Cliffs.
This is where many of the 4,446 UKIP votes were believed to have been cast in 2015 – and with UKIP not fielding a candidate, Mr Kirby is keen to win those voters over. The leadership has endorsed the Tories in seats where there isn’t a UKIP candidate.
Mr Kirby faces a young and highly motivated challenger in Lloyd Russell-Moyle. The 30-year-old won a seat on Brighton and Hove City Council in a by-election in East Brighton last year.
He said: “Labour can definitely win here and I think we will win here.”
He vowed to keep working to encourage people vote right through to tomorrow evening (Thursday 8 June).
Brighton Kemptown is the most marginal seat in the south east and Labour will be hoping to win the backing of the 3,187 voters who supported the Greens two years ago. The party stood aside this time round.
The Liberal Democrats are fielding former BHASVIC student Emily Tester and a dash of colour has been added to the contest by Circus of Horrors ringmaster Doktor Haze who describes himself as an Alternative candidate.
The betting website Oddschecker has had Simon Kirby as the favourite since the campaign started but the odds have lengthened in the past week while the odds on Lloyd Russell-Moyle have shortened. The website’s political tipster said that Labour could triumph.
The result isn’t expected until daybreak on Friday (9 June) and – as a bellwether seat – observers will be keen to see which way it goes.
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