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The lack of Ukip candidates is a big advantage for Theresa May

Paul Nuttall's party is an exhausted force.

By Stephen Bush

And we’re off! Candidates have registered and we now know exactly who will be standing in each of the 650 seats in the Commons.

The Times has crunched the numbers on our new overlords the Conservative candidates and although the number of women is way up, the number of minorities being selected is smaller than under David Cameron. Just five of their 100 target seats are from an ethnic minority. And that Labour is expected to lose so many seats means that the number of women in the Commons will remain essentially unchanged if the polls are borne out.

But the biggest story may be what is happening elsewhere: in the seats where Ukip are not putting up a candidate. A combination of strategy – the seven Labour leavers and the most ardent Conservative Brexiteers are not being opposed – personnel – the party is struggling to find enough warm bodies – and money – Ukip has fought a general election, a referendum, and a local election in the last three years – means that party is standing significantly fewer candidates this time out. (The Greens are doing the same in some seats, for a similar set of reasons.)

We saw how the collapse in the Ukip vote coupled with the slight drop in the Labour vote led to thumping victories for the Conservatives in the local elections. Theresa May’s attack line today that Labour has “deserted” the working class is designed squarely to accelerate that trend even further on 8 June. That task will be made considerably easier as Ukip quits the field entirely.

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