HENRY DEEDES in the Welsh town that could cut PM's majority to one tonight 

Snaking down the mist-topped Brecon Beacons is an unnerving experience in the torrential rain.

It's not just that, as a non-local, my car is unsuited to these spaghetti-shaped trails. It's more that the radio news reports I've been listening to during the four-and-a-half hour drive from London have been predicting civil unrest among Welsh sheep farmers over the Government's No Deal Brexit plans.

Since about 35 per cent of their lamb is exported, with 92 per cent going to the EU, farmers are terrified that European importers would refuse to pay the higher prices and boycott Welsh meat. Indeed, it's said that a No Deal Brexit could see tariffs add up to 91 per cent to the price of British sheep meat for EU buyers. No wonder there's Armageddon talk about the mass slaughter of animals.

Mr Johnson in Brecon yesterday

Chris Davies  leaving Cardiff Magistrates Court after his sentencing in April

Boris Johnson made a fleeting visit to Brecon on July 30 with Conservative candidate Chris Davies, who was convicted of expenses fraud earlier this year

I'm half-expecting to be confronted by angry shepherds wielding pitchforks and shouting obscenities. Instead, all I see are signs proclaiming: 'The Liberal Democrats are winning Brecon.' They refer to today's by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire. It's the first public test of Boris Johnson as prime minister.

What's more, if the Tory candidate does not win, his Commons majority would be reduced to a solitary seat. And so this slightly sleepy town on the west side of the Severn Bridge is the unlikely centre of the UK's political radar. Should the Conservatives hold the seat, Johnson may take encouragement and call a snap general election. Should they lose, most likely to the Liberals, the Boris balloon may pop and the PM would steer clear of the voting public for a bit.

For all the talk in Westminster of a 'Boris bounce', bookmakers reckon the Lib Dems will win. The by-election was triggered after the incumbent Tory MP, Chris Davies, was found guilty of expenses fraud for submitting two fake invoices totalling £700 for nine photos to display in his constituency office.

Far from an MPs' expenses scandal of duck house or moat proportions, he insists it was a naive error – something his local association clearly accept as they re-selected him.

As part of his whirlwind tour of the 'awesome foursome' – what Johnson calls the four British nations – the PM visited Brecon on Tuesday but wouldn't be photographed with Davies. The superstar of politics, it seems, doesn't want to waste his magic dust on a loser.

Tories are desperately praying the 'Boris bounce' will stave off defeat in the Brecon by-election

Tories are desperately praying the 'Boris bounce' will stave off defeat in the Brecon by-election

Speaking in a honeyed Welsh burr, Davies told me he's mystified by the talk of a swing to the arch-Remainer Lib Dems as this is a pro-Brexit area (voting 54 per cent to 46 per cent Leave in 2016). Lib Dem tactics over the past weeks, he claims, have been 'vile': reports of Tory campaign posters being torn down and vindictive literature being distributed. For her part, Lib Dem candidate Jane Dodds insists her team has focused solely on 'local Lib Dem issues'.

Inevitably, Nigel Farage is a factor here. Since their man is a committed Brexiteer, the Tories aren't happy that the Brexit Party is fielding a

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