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David Davis, the maverick Tory, will almost certainly wake up on Friday as MP for Haltemprice and Howden, his constituency until a month ago when he stepped down to wage a single-issue by-election over civil liberties.

On Monday, he will return to work in Westminster and try to resume his old life. But having lost his former post as shadow home secretary, he may be in a weaker position to reverse the policy that prompted his dramatic political experiment – the extension of terror suspect detention to 42 days.

Mr Davis, saying he would be happy to “prowl the backbenches” as a “big beast”, insisted on Wednesday that it had been worth it. He told the Financial Times he had won the argument and this was shown by a shift in opinion polls against the policy.

The campaign against a “Big Brother” government in all its facets may have won a timely boost after the debate in the House of Lords on Tuesday.

Baroness Manningham-Buller, former head of MI5, used the debate to deliver a maiden speech that damned the 42-days plans on security and civil liberty grounds, calling them “unworkable”.

But it will be difficult to gauge Mr Davis’s success given that the other main parties are not standing. Instead, he may be judged on turnout, which will be marred by an agricultural show taking place and the fact that students from Hull University are on holiday.

Shami Chakrabarti, head of Liberty, the pressure group, Rachel North, a victim of the July 7 attacks and Bob Marshall-Andrews, the Labour MP, appeared on a platform with Mr Davis on Wednesday at a hotel in the heart of his constituency.

Mr Marshall-Andrews, criticising New Labour’s track record on civil liberties, admitted that his support of Mr Davis’s campaign was highly unusual. But he said he had defied party whips for the sake of the cause.

The rural constituency, on the banks of the Humber, once named by Barclays as the 10th most prosperous in Britain, is conspicuously white and middle-class.

In spite of misgivings among local voters – some believe that Mr Davis is egotistical or mistaken – many say they will vote for him.

“I don’t agree with him on 42 days but I do fear Big Brother is watching us all the time,” said Kathleen Walsh, walking her dog. “I think he’s a bit silly on the first bit but he’ll get my vote.”

Roy Walker, landlord of the Star Inn, will vote for Mr Davis but wonders if it is a waste of money that could have been spent on new swings for children to play on in local parks.

Mr Davis, a former SAS officer, will be opposed by left-field candidates ranging from “Lord Biro” and Miss Great Britain to David Icke, the former sports commentator who once warned of a “reptilian race from another planet and/or dimension covertly controlling humanity”.

The more serious rivals include Shan Oaks of the Green party and Jill Saward, who campaigns on behalf of crime victims.

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017. All rights reserved.

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