Newark by-election is Conservatives to lose, not Ukip's to win

Prime Minister David Cameron and Mayor of London Boris Johnson as they speak with shoppers at Newark market ahead of the by-election. Photo: PA

By ITV News Political Correspondent Carl Dinnen

In the Conservative Party Campaign office there is a roll of honour signed by all the MPs who have campaigned here on behalf of their man Robert Jenrick. David Cameron and George Osborne are on it, Theresa May will add her name again today. The Conservatives are taking this very seriously.

The Ukip challenge, as the local and European elections and now our ComRes poll shows, needs to be taken seriously. **

Patrick Mercer commanded a huge majority in Newark. It won't be easy for Ukip to overturn that. But they did top the European poll here as elsewhere and their candidate, Roger Helmer, is the successful MEP. Could Labour slip through the middle? "That's what all the journalists ask" says their candidate Michael Payne, not answering the question.

This is not strong Lib Dem territory and this has not been the Lib Dems strongest week. So candidate David Watts is battling on against adversity but not with the highest hopes.

This is the Conservatives' to lose, Ukip's to win. But stranger things have happened - and recently too.