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The loss of the seat, won in 2019 with a 24,239 majority, to the Lib Dems would horrify Tories and intensify efforts to remove the PM. But a win could transform his current standing.
The poll was triggered when MP Neil Parish resigned after watching pornography in the Commons.
Conservatives are also defending Wakefield, West Yorks, where they have a majority of just 3,358 and Labour are the main challengers.
Wakefield’s former MP, Imran Ahmad Khan, was jailed for sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy.
Mr Johnson was bruised earlier this month when 148 Conservative MPs voted against him in a confidence motion and his character is once again in the spotlight following the resignation of his ethics adviser Lord Geidt.
Ms Hurford, a 43-year-old former head teacher, said the Partygate row is still an issue and some people are “still very cross and upset.”
She added: “I understand how everybody is feeling, and we have a discussion about it, and we also talk about what’s actually important right here, right now.”
Other voters remain “hugely grateful” for the Government’s measures to protect livelihoods during the pandemic, she said.
But the cost of living is the biggest issue on the doorsteps.
Predicting a tight election, Ms Hurford said: “It’s going to be very, very close. I only need to win by one, and a win is a win.”
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey insisted Tiverton and Honiton is too close to call. He said: “It’s on a knife-edge.”
But he predicted a Lib Dem victory would increase demands from Tory MPs for Mr Johnson to go.
Sir Ed said: “If we do win then there is no doubt that if I was a Tory MP, and lots of them have got much smaller majorities than is the case in Tiverton and Honiton, I would be looking over my shoulder. And I think if he was to take another vote of no confidence, it would be much more than 148.”
Sir Ed also confirmed that the cost of living is the biggest issue on doorsteps, with pensioners angry at the decision to suspend the “triple lock,” which meant pensions rose by just 3.1 percent this year while inflation is currently 9 percent.
Lib Dems won two by-election victories last year but Sir Ed said the Tories are putting up a better fight this time around.
A Tory critic of the PM stressed how serious losing Tiverton and Honiton would be for Conservatives, saying: “If they lose badly, everyone facing a Lib Dem is potentially done.”
They said Tories have given Mr Johnson until the autumn conference to come up with convincing policies.
But a former cabinet minister predicted Tory voters could return to backing Mr Johnson if he battles Brussels over the Northern Ireland protocol and is seen to take on the World Trade Organisation to protect the British steel industry.
“It could well be that the stars are realigning for Boris,” they said.
Tory peer Lord Hayward predicted the PM will enjoy “an enormous boost” if Tories win either of Thursday’s polls.
He said it is also a test for Sir Keir Starmer, who is under pressure to win.
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