Contrary to general misconception, East and West Sussex are not so true blue that you simply weigh the Tory votes, even if that is the picture in large rural stretches along the South Downs.
In 2015, it was the loss of the two seats of Eastbourne and Lewes by the Lib Dems to the Conservatives that helped bolster David Cameron’s wafer-thin majority. Brighton and Hove – the single largest mass of population in the county – boasts Westminster’s only Green MP Caroline Lucas as one of its own. The other two seats are held by Labour and Conservative. And Hastings and Rye, the seat of Home Secretary Amber Rudd, has a long-standing Labour ancestry which means no party can take it for granted. Sussex: political bellweather The June 8 general election may well be determined by the likes of Eastbourne and Lewes. Can the Lib Dems – whose previous success was rooted in high profile local MPs – win them back? And can Labour retain its seat at Hove? If the debate comes down to a battle on Brexit lines, then the overall Sussex EU referendum vote exactly mirrored the national poll – with a surge of Brexit support in faded seaside resorts being diluted in part by strong backing for Remain in Brighton.
Of course, the world has moved on since the referendum. Business likes certainty. There are Remainers in Sussex who simply want the Government to get on with Brexit – securing the best deal for Britain and opening new markets across the globe. Opposition parties in general and the Lib Dems in particular must hope that’s not a view that has gained universal acceptance across the county and country – or Sussex will have entirely vindicated the Prime Minister’s decision to go to the polls.
Gary Shipton is Editor in Chief of Sussex Newspapers