Voters in Selby and Ainsty said they believe the result of this week’s by-election is on a knife-edge.
Conservative Nigel Adams, who resigned last month, had a 20,000-plus majority but many former Tory voters shopping in the sun in the shadow of Selby Abbey said they were disillusioned with Rishi Sunak’s party.
But not all disaffected Tories said they would be backing Labour.
Like many in the constituency, Barry Rennison, 78, a retired bus company manager from Thorpe Willoughby, has already cast his postal vote.
Mr Rennison said he was voting Labour.
“I’ve always been Labour,” he said.
“I don’t think they’ve much of a chance here though, going by past results.
“We didn’t see much of (former MP Nigel Adams) up here. I know he was a big pal of Boris’s.
“I’ve kept all the candidates’ literature we’ve been sent so far. Claire Holmes (Conservative) is in the lead with nine bits, Keir Mather’s (Labour) behind on six.”
Mr Rennison said his wife was usually a Conservative voter but was considering voting for the Liberal Democrats this time.
Lewis Foley, 24, said he was undecided but “leaning more towards Labour”.
“My family are all Conservatives but I think they are leaning the same way as me.
“Some of them have been impacted really badly by the cost-of-living crisis. Everything’s expensive, and most people are in the same boat.
“It’s going to be tight. Part of me hopes it might swing Labour’s way.”
Mr Foley said: “We had Rishi Sunak in Thorpe Willoughby the other day, but I don’t think there was a huge amount of support.”
‘Best of bad bunch’
Lifelong Conservative voter Margaret Laslett, 76, will be doing the same again.
“Come on, what’s Labour got to offer? Absolutely nothing.
“(The Conservatives) are the best of a bad bunch.
“I think they’re doing a reasonably good job.”
Ms Laslett said she thought Labour would win the by-election because “the Conservatives have had such bad press over the last few months.”
Care home worker Alison Warwick, 61, has voted for the Conservatives by postal vote.
She said she thought the result “could go either way” and that the Tories had done a good job for the region “from what I’ve seen” since moving there two-and-a-half years ago.
“The biggest thing for me is transport because I go into Leeds for work. I think (the Government) is doing well on that.”
Retired civil servant David Slater, 65, said he has voted Tory in the past but will not be this time.
He said: “I’m recovering from pancreatic cancer and they’re running the health service into the ground.
“I think it’s deliberate so they can get foreign private sector people in.
“I won’t be voting Conservative.”
‘Could go either way’
Mr Slater said he is still weighing up who to vote for, saying: “I think I’ll have to wait and see who’s most likely to win.”
But he added: “I think Labour might do it.”
Record shop owner Michael Rogers, 55, said: “I think it could go either way depending on the mood.”
Mr Rogers said he voted for Nigel Adams in 2019 but said: “I’ve not made my mind up, yet.”
Asked if he would consider voting Labour, he said: “I’m not particularly keen on the leader. I’ve always been more concerned about what happens in this area than the bigger picture.
“I don’t pledge allegiance to one party.”
All the candidates
The by-election was triggered by the resignation of staunch Boris Johnson supporter Mr Adams, who held the seat for the Conservatives since it was created in 2010.
The outgoing MP quit Parliament after being denied a peerage in Mr Johnson’s resignation honours list.
At the 2019 general election, Mr Adams increased his majority to 20,137, from 13,772 in 2017, with Labour in second place on both occasions.
The Tories have named barrister and district councillor Claire Holmes as their candidate and Labour have selected 25-year-old Keir Mather to fight for the seat.
If he was elected, Mr Mather would be the youngest MP in the Commons, as the current youngest, Labour’s Nottingham East MP Nadia Whittome, is 26.
The Lib Dems, who came third in the seat in the 2019 general election, have selected North Yorkshire councillor and NHS manager Matt Walker.
Mike Jordan, who came fourth in 2019, has been selected again to run for the Yorkshire Party.
The other nine candidates are: Andrew Philip Gray (Independent); Dave Kent (Reform UK); Nick Palmer (Independent); Guy Phoenix (Heritage Party); Sir Archibald Stanton (The Official Monster Raving Loony Party); Arnold Francis Ignatius Warneken (The Green Party); John William Waterston (Social Democratic Party); Luke John Wellock (Climate Party); and Tyler Callum Wilson-Kerr (Independent).
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