LABOR will run former NSW Premier and Sky News host Kristina Keneally in the by-election for Bennelong, against the Liberals's John Alexander, who had to step down for being British.

This is a gutsy move by Keneally, risking embarrassment by running for a marginal seat. But I suspect she's seen Labor research showing she's in with a red-hot chance.

Alexander is a personally popular member who has lifted his margin at the last election to 10 per cent.

But the Government has since tanked in the polls, and is 10 points behind Labor. This is also a byelection, which tends to be dangerous for sitting governments. And Keneally is a stronger Labor candidate. 

And add this wildcard. Alexander yesterday said he was waiting for Britain to still acknowledge that he had renounced his British citizenship - a process he expected to take about a week. But he needs that finalised in the nine days left before nominations for election, or he will once again not be entitled to serve as a federal MP. This is tight.

All in all, I'd probably tip the Liberals to lose Bennelong. If they do lose it, the Coalition will have just 75 seats in the 150-seat House of Representatives (providing Barnaby Joyce wins in New England). The Government will not have a majority.

News Corp Australia

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