Conservative-leaning Essex has been a Tory stronghold for years at borough, county and parliamentary level. 

The county’s 18 seats are all Tory – with majorities of as much as 29,000.

But that could be about to change when voters go to the polls on December 12.

Here is a constituency by constituency rundown of whether the county will stay blue.

Epping Forest

Epping Forest voted to leave by 62.7 per cent. Current MP Eleanor Laing has a majority of more than 18,000.

It is difficult to see how other parties will have any success in the constituency that has been Tory since its creation in 1974.


Harlow is another heavily Brexit area – 68.1 per cent of voters opted to leave.

The sitting Tory MP Robert Halfon, who has been MP since 2010 and who has a majority of about 7,000, will have to fight off vigorous opposition from the Brexit Party.

But it has previously voted Labour, recently in 1997, 2001 and 2005.

With that in mind the town is the 20th most deprived area in the UK.

Like other ‘new towns’ in England, its retail sector is struggling, as empty units remain on the high street.

Meanwhile the Terminus House development, where a town centre ex-office block was converted into ‘rabbit hutch’ flats, has been a hub of crime, drug deals and rubbish being thrown out of the windows of the building, according to police.

Out of the 324 areas investigated, the town was the 25th worst place for crime.

Harlow is the 37th worst place in the country in terms of having an unqualified population.


Brentwood is about as Tory as it gets – the current MP has a majority of around 24,000. It also voted strongly to leave in 2016 with 59.2 per cent.

The council is Tory.

On national issues such as health, education and crime, Brentwood is a slam dunk for the Tories.

But to discount the effects of Brexit is premature and nobody can be sure how this will play.

Saffron Walden

For Saffron Walden to shift its allegiances from the Conservatives would be a huge shock – it has been Tory since 1922.

The current MP Kemi Badenoch enjoys a majority of almost 25,000.

But residents recently voted to kick out the Tory administration from Uttlesford Council, which has also in the past been run by the remain-supporting Lib Dems.

If previous remain voters feel strong enough to stop Brexit – and the Brexit Party splits the Tory leave vote – there may be a surprise in North Essex.


Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price sits on a majority of just 345 and faces serious challenges from the Brexit Party and Labour

And if what happened at the local elections in May there could be some surprises across the county. 

Then the Tories  lost a whopping 31 seats in Chelmsford. Liberal Democrats, the anti-Brexit party, overturned the 45-seat Tory majority and gained control in May.

The Tories also lost Uttlesford to Residents4Uttlesford – an independent residents’ association – which took 17 seats from the Tories.

Basildon, Southend and Tendring councils also slipped from the Conservatives to no overall control.

Controversial issues, besides Brexit, such as housing and the Green Belt were listed as factors affecting the results which led to the Tories losing their ruling majority in six boroughs and districts.


Tory-held Clacton will undoubtedly be high on the Brexit Party’s targets – Tendring voted 69.5 per cent to leave in 2016 making it one of the highest leave supporting areas in The UK.

To see the problems the Tories may have look at the results of the 2015 general election when  Douglas Carswell won a majority of 3,437 ahead of the Tories

And although UKIP suffered electoral disaster during the general election of 2017 – The Tories took Clacton with a 15,000 majority ahead of Labour – for many Brexit may seem unresolved.

It means the squeeze on the Tories is back on, more so if significant numbers of people who previously voted Tory switch to the Brexit Party and the Labour Party vote holds up.


Chelmsford is another one of those marginal leave areas – 52.8 per cent voted to leave in 2016.

The Lib Dems took the council from the Tories during the local election earlier this year.

But it still remains a huge task for either the Lib Dems – who gained just 7,000 votes in the 2017 general election or Labour who got 17,000 – to take the seat away from the Tories, who were voted in with more than 30,000 votes.

But how much Brexit will play is unknown. National issues are bound to play a huge part, including issues around the NHS, education and policing.


Thurrock will be one of the key targets for the Brexit Party – it was one of the UK’s five districts with the highest percentage of people who backed Brexit.

But that in itself may lead to a Labour MP.

The seat has traditionally been incredibly marginal. It has been Tory since 2010 – albeit with the tinniest of majorities.

Jackie Doyle-Price won in 2017 with a 345 majority, before that in 2015 she won with a majority of 536 and in 2010 she became MP with a majority of just 92.

With 72.3 per cent of the vote backing leave Thurrock will be a key battleground between the Tories, Labour and Brexit Party.

The question remains, will faith in the Conservative Party to deliver Brexit hold or could the Brexit Party win or even split the pro-Brexit vote leading to a Labour MP? It could be close.

Castle Point

In Castle Point 72.7 per cent of the electorate voted to leave.

Since its creation in 1983 it has only ever not been Tory once – in 1997 when the paper candidate Christine Butler won a shock victory against Bob Spink.

The Tories’ sitting MP Rebecca Harris enjoys a majority of almost 19,000.

But like Thurrock the seat will be high up the Brexit Party’s priorities.

And like Thurrock, will faith in the Conservative Party to deliver Brexit hold in Castle Point or could the Brexit Party win? Possibly.

Or could the Brexit Party split the pro-Brexit vote leading to a Labour MP? Less likely. But not impossible.


Between 1997 and 2010, Colchester was held by the Lib Dem Bob Russell.

The Tories are sitting on a majority of more than 5,600 from Labour after the 2017 general election. Bob Russell polled just 9,000.

It voted for Brexit by 53.6 per cent.

It is unclear whether those Lib Dem votes will come back or even if the Brexit Party does stand whether those Brexit leave votes will move away from the Tories.

More parochially the delayed plans to improve the A12, as well as concerns about the huge garden housing community, may affect voter intentions, as well as national issues surrounding health, policing and education will play a big part.

Rayleigh and Wickford

The constituency of Rayleigh and Wickford is currently held by arch Brexiteer Mark Francois with a majority of about 23,000.

And it’s hard to see that position changing as Basildon – the EU referendum area that covers a large slice of the constituency – voted to leave by 68.6 per cent.

Mark Francois is one of the most high profile Brexiteers and it seems difficult to imagine how voters will turn their back on him.


Maldon voted to leave with 62.6 per cent of the vote. The constituency has been Tory since 1955.

The current MP Jon Whittingdale has a majority of about 23,000.

Like Brentwood it is difficult see how the Tories may lose the seat – even with the challenge from the Brexit Party.


Witham is the constituency of arch Brexiteer Priti Patel who sits on a majority of 28,000. It has been Tory since its creation in 2010.

Braintree, the EU referendum area the constituency largely sits in, voted to leave by 61.1 per cent.

Aside Brexit the local issues are dominated by the delays to the upgrade of the A12 and the issues surrounding a large garden community planned nearby.


Braintree is the constituency of Tory Party chairman James Cleverly, who sits on a majority of around 18,000. It has been Tory since its creation in 2010.

As mentioned above the constituency is strongly pro-leave, but issues around the A12 upgrade and a large garden community could impact on voters.

Basildon and Billericay

Basildon and Billericay has been Tory since it was created in 2010. It is represented by John Baron – a Brexit supporter – with a majority of about 13,500.

The constituency straddles Brentwood and Basildon, both of which voted heavily to leave.

Rochford and Southend East

Rochford and Southend East has been Tory since its creation in 1997 – though Teddy Taylor  – the MP from 1997 to 2005 – held the abolished seat of Southend East from 1980. The seat itself was never anything but Tory.

The sitting MP James Duddridge holds a majority of 5,500 ahead of Labour, who have traditionally been the main challengers.

Given that challenge, other parties may find it very hard to win the seat.

Southend West

Southend West has been Tory ever since its creation in 1935 and MP David Amess currently has a majority of 10,000.

Although Southend voted to leave like Rochford and Southend East, given that challenge, other parties may find it very hard to win the seat.

Harwich and North Essex

Bernard Jenkin  – another high profile Brexiteer MP – has a majority of more than 14,000 for the Harwich and North Essex seat

However with a constituency that straddles into Tendring, that voted 69.5 per cent to leave in 2016, making it one of the highest leave supporting areas in the UK, it is unclear what effects a Brexit Party challenge may have.

South Basildon and East Thurrock 

Stephen Metcalfe, who has held the seat since its creation in 2010, has a 11,000 majority.

It may be the seat will be a target for the Brexit Party – the area straddlles Thurrock and Basildon which both posted some of the highest proportion of leave votes.

With 72.3 per cent of the vote backing leave, like Thurrock, the question remains, will faith in the Conservative Party to deliver Brexit hold or could the Brexit Party win or even split the pro-Brexit vote?