Portillo moments: Tory Cabinet ministers likely to lose their seats

Several Cabinet ministers are facing potential “Portillo” moments – the shock loss of their seats – in the General Election.

A “Portillo” moment is a reference to Conservative cabinet minister Michael Portillo who lost what had been regarded as a safe Tory seat in Labour’s 1997 landslide.

Voter intention surveys have suggested a Labour lead of around 20 points, while massive multi-level regression and post-stratification (MRP) studies, which forecast constituency level results, have consistently indicated a Labour landslide.

Here are members of Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet who could be ousted when the results roll in:

– Jeremy Hunt

Close up of Jeremy Hunt - in a black suit, white shirt and black tie - against a white background
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt could lose his seat in the General Election (Aaron Chown/PA)

Jeremy Hunt has been chancellor, foreign secretary and health secretary since he became MP for South West Surrey in 2005.

After gaining a notional majority of 10,720 in 2019, Mr Hunt has admitted he now faces a “knife-edge” battle to win the race to be MP in the new constituency of Godalming and Ash, where Liberal Democrat councillor Paul Follows is his key challenger.

The Lib Dems will need a swing of 9.7 percentage points in the share of the vote to gain the seat.

Mr Hunt twice tried to become Tory leader and said his referendum vote for the UK to remain in the EU worked against him in 2019 when Boris Johnson got the top job. In 2022, he backed Mr Sunak over Liz Truss.

Mr Sunak appointed him Chancellor of the Exchequer in 2022. He holds the title of longest-serving health secretary, a post he held from 2012 to 2018.

– Grant Shapps

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps has held a series of cabinet positions under four Tory prime ministers – including energy security and net zero secretary, business secretary and home secretary.

He could be ousted as MP for Welwyn Hatfield, where he was voted in in 2005, by Labour challenger Andrew Lewin.

His professional background is in printing and he founded a printing company in 1990.

His notional majority in 2019 was 10,773. Labour will need a swing of 10.4 points to win the seat.

– Penny Mordaunt

Penny Mordaunt, a blonde woman, is photographed mid-speech. She is gesturing with one hand
Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt’s Portsmouth North seat is at risk (Peter Byrne/PA)

Penny Mordaunt, the House of Commons Leader, will have to fend off competition from Labour’s Amanda Martin, who most polls have predicted could take the Portsmouth North seat.

Ms Mordaunt had a notional majority of 15,780 in 2019. Labour is in second place and will need a swing of 17.2 points to gain her seat.

Ms Mordaunt, who went viral for carrying two heavy swords at the King’s coronation, will be hotly tipped to run for the party leadership again if she manages to hang on to her seat.

She has two failed bids under her belt, having lost to Ms Truss and then Mr Sunak. She became an MP in 2010 and was made the UK’s first female defence secretary in 2019, but was bumped from the role after 85 days in a reshuffle.

– Alex Chalk

Alex Chalk, the Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor since 2023, became MP for Cheltenham in 2015.

Mr Chalk’s notional majority in 2019 was 1,421. He could be unseated this time around by Liberal Democrat Max Wilkinson. The Lib Dems need a swing of 1.3 points to gain the seat.

Mr Chalk spent 14 years as a barrister before he was elected as an MP and specialised in counter-terrorism, homicide and serious fraud cases.

The legal system has faced severe challenges under his watch – with a backlog of court cases, delays due to Covid-19 and industrial action by criminal defence barristers.

– Mark Harper

Mark Harper has been Transport Secretary since 2022 and became an MP in 2005.

During his time in the transport post, Mr Sunak scrapped the northern leg of HS2. Mr Harper is also known for chairing the Covid Recovery Group, which opposed the December 2020 lockdown and voted against other Covid restrictions.

He could lose his Forest of Dean seat to Labour challenger Matt Bishop. Labour would need a swing of 15.5 points to gain it. Mr Harper had a notional majority of 15,869 in 2019.

– Mel Stride

Mel Stride, in a long grey coat, walks through some black ornate gates on a cobbled path. He is carrying a red folder under one arm.
Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride (Lucy North/PA)

Mel Stride, the Work and Pensions Secretary since 2022, will struggle to hang on to his seat of Central Devon, which he gained in 2010.

Mr Stride has been House of Commons leader and paymaster general.

He is often deployed to face the media on behalf of his party – and has made more appearances than any of his Cabinet colleagues during the General Election campaign, according to an analysis by The Telegraph.

He recently said he was most proud of having “supported pensioners” during his time at the helm of the DWP. He has overseen the continuation of the triple lock plus commitment to raise the state pension every year in line with whichever is highest out of wage growth, inflation or 2.5%.

Polls predict a close race between Mr Stride and his Labour challenger Ollie Pearson.

Mr Stride holds a notional majority of 17,300 from 2019, with Labour needing a swing of 15.3 points to his seat.

– Gillian Keegan

The Education Secretary since 2022 and MP for Chichester from 2017, Ms Keegan might hold her seat, with polls predicting a tight result between her and her Lib Dem counterpart Jess Brown-Fuller.

Ms Keegan has pushed for banning smartphones in schools. She also oversaw draft statutory sex education guidance that “gender ideology” should not be taught in schools.

She holds a notional majority of 19,622 from 2019. The Lib Dems will need a swing of 19.3 points to gain Ms Keegan’s seat.