May has courted working-class voters who feel betrayed by the forces of globalization by telling them they are right to be skeptical of politicians, that life will get hard but she’ll try to level the playing field. It’s a message that struck a chord in these former mining or steel-producing towns finally ready to bury their Tory grudge and switch sides after a century as Labour bastions.
Another factor playing in the Tories’ favor is that the desire to leave prevailed in Wales, one of the birthplaces of the 19th-century industrial revolution and where trade unions once dominated. Only five out 22 local government districts voted to stay in last year’s referendum in yet another sign that Brexit has redrawn the U.K.’s political map to test historic party allegiances.
In Wales, Conservatives are on track to seize the biggest share of the vote and parliamentary seats for the first time since 1922. Contrast that with 2015, when Labour took 25 of 40 Welsh seats to 11 for the Tories. Spying an opportunity to win seats, May was in Wrexham, north Wales after making an earlier campaign visit to Bridgend and Newport in south Wales last month.