Greg Hands told Tory activists he fears losing seat after boundary changes take in 'bottom of Hammersmith'

Greg Hands told Tory activists he fears losing seat after boundary changes take in 'bottom of Hammersmith'

The Minister for London told Tory activists he feared losing his seat after the “dynamic” of his constituency was changed by boundary reviews.

Greg Hands, who is fighting to retain Chelsea and Fulham for the Conservatives, said taking in “15,000 voters from the bottom of Hammersmith” could make it much more difficult for him to win.

During a drinks reception in January, the former Tory Party Chair and Trade Minister, can be heard saying that due to new boundaries his seat was “going to be right on the front line” of the General Election fight for the Conservatives.

Speaking at the event with Transport Secretary Mark Harper, Mr Hands told the crowd: “Obviously there’s going to be a general election later this year – as Mark says we’re not expecting it in the next few months, but here is going to be right on the front line of that election.

“You might be thinking that ‘well hold on, Greg – Chelsea, Fulham, that all sounds quite Conservative’, and there are very Conservative parts of Chelsea and Fulham but the boundaries change, and we take in 15,000 voters from the bottom of Hammersmith which changes the dynamic of the constituency into a constituency that is going to be quite competitive between Conservatives and Labour.”

The new boundaries for Chelsea and Fulham include the Fulham Reach and West Kensington wards, which rank among some of the most deprived in England according to the latest census.

Three quarters of the population of Chelsea and Fulham are in the highest social status category, where average house prices are over £1,500,000 and annual salaries exceed £62,000.

Mr Hands, an MP since 2005, has seen off four challengers, three Labour and one Liberal Democrat to hold onto the Chelsea and Fulham seat since it was created in 2010.

This year it is a top target for Labour, with recent polling putting the Conservative candidate less than two per cent ahead of Labour’s Ben Coleman.

Mr Hands told the Standard: “The campaign is going well. I’m the only main party candidate who lives in the constituency and Labour’s tax on independent schools is clearly a massive issue for parents here.

“The boundary changes do make the dynamics more Labour but there will be Conservative voters in those wards too.”

It comes as Grant Shapps on Monday became the second cabinet to admit their seat was on "a knife edge".

The Defence Secretary said he "accepted" he was in danger of not retaining his Welwyn Hatfield constituency according to polls, but insisted he had been getting a good reception from voters while canvassing.

"I think it's a two horse race," he told Sky News. "I think it is on a knife edge [but] I think I can win it because I have helped a lot of people in Welwyn Hatfield. I have always prioritised people over politics locally."

It follows Chancellor Jeremy Hunt vowing to “defend the Blue Wall brick by brick” as the Liberal Democrats seek to oust him in what they hope will be a “Portillo moment” in the early hours of July 5.