DEFIANT political leaders insist “the city is all to play for” after a new poll suggested traditionally dyed-in-wool Conservative seats in Southend could switch to Labour at the upcoming general election.

Polling by Survation on behalf of action group Best for Britain, shows Southend West and Leigh - currently represented by Tory Anna Firth - would switch to Labour which would boast a 39.1 per cent vote share if an election was called today.

The Southend East and Rochford seat - where sitting Tory Sir James Duddridge is standing down - may also turn to Labour, with a 41.4 per cent vote share, the poll adds.

The results were based on an analysis of the polling of 15,029 voters.

The same poll predicts Rishi Sunak’s Tories could be reduced to fewer than 100 seats in an election which would be one of the worst political defeats ever.

Southend East and Rochford still has no Tory candidate in place while Labour has selected Bayo Alaba to fight the seat.

Speculation is rife as to why the Tories have not yet formally kickstarted the process but many believe Central Office will use it as a tool to parachute in a candidate.

Some have linked Boris Johnson to a comeback in Southend East and Rochford.

Labour has also yet to confirm who its candidate will be for Southend West seat although it is understood Southend councillor Lydia Hyde and former Basildon mayor David Burton-Sampson are seeking selection.

Labour Westborough councillor, Aston Line, is also believed to be seeking the party’s nomination despite being dropped as a council candidate.

Tory MP for Southend West, Anna Firth, “The only poll that matters is the general election, while the Labour Party in Southend are too busy fighting amongst themselves to select a candidate to oppose me in Southend West and Leigh, I am getting on with the job of representing my constituents, delivering on my promise to make Southend safer, healthier and wealthier for all.”

Southend Council’s Conservative leader, Tony Cox, said: “The first thing to say here is that the only poll that matters is the one on polling day, we have learnt a wise lesson not to believe the opinion polls. They are never correct in one guise or another and I still believe that Southend is all to play for in terms of the general election.”

Mr Cox noted the concern that there is currently no firm candidate for Southend East and Rochford but said that he “is certain that a candidate will be selected soon enough”.

Southend Council’s Labour leader, Daniel Cowan said; “Labour is feeling positive but not complacent about this, we know people are sick of a reckless government and we know people are tired of declining standards.

“We want to give people hope but we still need to earn their votes and we won’t assume that we will just get them from people, we can never call this until the votes are counted. We are doing the best we can to earn people’s trust and people recognise we are a changed labour party and a genuine alternative.”

Mr Cowan also noted that he “understands the worry” people have of a Labour candidate for Southend West being “parachuted” in and is relying on the national party to make the call.

He said: “People in Southend want their potential MP to be someone who stands up for the area and is a good representation, a local connection is always helpful but overall people do want the best person for the job.”