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  1. ITV Report

Theresa May hopes for Brexit-boost in Lincolnshire by-election but UKIP are closing in

Credit: Press Association

By Daniel Hewitt, Political Correspondent

In this small market town in middle England, people are losing patience with politicians.

Lincolnshire is the beating heart of Brexit Britain - the highest leave votes in the country were recorded here, and voters want Westminster to get on with it.

Sleaford and North Hykeham, in the district of North Kesteven, by no means registered the biggest leave vote in Lincolnshire, but at 62%, it was a clear enough message.

Speaking to people here over the last three days, there is little regret or reflection, no talk of hard or soft Brexit. Instead, there is frustration and distrust - the feeling politicians 120 miles away are attempting to ignore them, in parliament and in the courts.

This is the climate in which this by-election is being fought, and it's the Conservative Party with everything to lose. They've held this seat since 1997, they have a majority of more than 24,000, but 2016 cares little for historical precedent.

This is a Brexit by-election. The referendum shifted the tectonic plates of politics and dragged safe seats like Richmond, and even safer seats like Sleaford and North Hykeham onto shaky, less predictable ground, and UKIP are fighting to hard to emerge first from the rubble.

Stephen Phillips Credit: ITV News

The Tory MP Stephen Phillips quit, he said, over the government's handling of Brexit, and in turn the question is now being put to his former constituents.

Will they give Theresa May a much-needed Brexit boost, a mandate from middle England to pursue the current course, her "red, white and blue Brexit"? Or will they give her government a kick, sending UKIP's second MP to parliament to push for the Brexit Nigel Farage wants for Britain - an end to freedom of movement, an end to membership of the EU's single market?

UKIP have a huge job on their hands winning here, but events this year - from Brexit to Donald Trump to Richmond - have given them plenty of hope to hang onto.