Westminster voters place Brexit and housing on list of concerns ahead of polling

By Adrian Zorzut, Local Democracy Reporter

Voters in the seat of the Cities of London and Westminster said Brexit and housing issues are among their top concerns this general election.

The constituency has been a Tory stronghold for 74 years but could become a Labour seat, if opinion polls are to be believed.

In gauging the temperature of the key issues exercising the minds of voters in central London ahead of Thursday’s polling, Matthew Lusty, 58, said Brexit was his issue.

He said: “It’s just been airbrushed out of the conversation.”

He said Brexit has been a “mess”. Gaye Gibson, 57, has lived in the capital for eight years. She said the honesty of politicians is hers.

Raife Bashford, 29, said social housing was top of his list. He said he can’t afford a home and is now living on a houseboat. “More social housing is something I’d be up for,” he said.

“For me, I think if you have more social housing available to a greater number of people, that can take a little pressure off the private market, which can then bring down pricing for people, [that] is my theory anyway.”

Mr Bashford also said he doesn’t mind paying more in tax if it goes to improving services. He said: “I don’t think it would happen here but I don’t mind the European mindset where it’s sort of high service, but for a high tax threshold.”

Jacaranda, 56, said she just wants to see a change of Government and said it is “inevitable” that taxes will go up. She said: “We’re in dire straits. Why didn’t people realise that? You know, [services have] got to be paid for. It’s been grim.”

Katie, 31, said getting the economy back on track mattered most to her. She also said it was important to address Britain’s budget deficit, which may require increasing taxes.

She said: “Ultimately, I think the money has got to come from somewhere to pay for services. It’s difficult. I wouldn’t want to be in [politicians’] positions.

“It’s clear that we’ve got a deficit that we need to figure out but, this is a very, very tricky decision as to where those taxes [come from] and which ones they are.”

The parliamentary seat of the Cities of London and Westminster has elected a Tory MP since its inception in the 1950 general election but could be set to buck that trend on July 4.

According to polling by Electoral Calculus, Labour’s Rachel Blake is tipped to win the seat with a predicted 39per cent of votes, far ahead of her closest rival – Tory candidate Tim Barnes, who is predicted to win 19.7per cent of votes. In third place is Reform UK with an estimated 16.2per cent of the vote.

In 2019, the seat was won by Nickie Aiken by a majority of 3,953 votes. The seat consists of most wards in the City of Westminster and the City of London. It will now include wards in the soon-to-be abolished seat of Westminster North thanks to changes announced in the 2023 Period Review of electoral boundaries.

Pictured top: Three voters air their views (left to right): Raife Bashford, Gaye Gibson and Matthew Lusty (Pictures: Adrian Zorzut)

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