BY JAMIE FOSTER
Last week Home Secretary Sajid Javid made a speech about extremism in which he singled out Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party saying they are not extremists. In what is seen to be an olive branch held out to the Brexit Party, Javid praised the Brexit Party and Nigel Farage for leaving UKIP behind when it changed to a “far right” party.
There is much speculation about a Tory Brexit Party coalition in the future. Javid said it is important not to demonise people when talking about extremism. Perhaps Javid envisages a future whereby a snap General Election is called in October to bypass parliamentary arithmetic and – in the ensuing Brexiteer victory – assure Brexit happens? This brave course may entail negotiating certain seats with the Brexit Party to ensure Corbyn’s Labour are soundly defeated.
A Brexit Party coalition is one issue. What about a Labour-Lib Dem Remain coalition for a snap General Election? That must surely be a possibility also?
It is worth considering what sort of relationship the Tory Party can have with the Brexit Party going forward. The Tory Party appear to see the Brexit Party as a threat, despite the fact that the Brexit Party has no track record of electoral success outside of European elections. In this way perhaps it is following UKIP which always did well in EU elections but didn’t follow it up with success in general elections? There is no way of knowing if the Brexit Party will face a similar scenario. The only way that the Tory Party could enter a formal coalition with the Brexit Party is if the Brexit Party had some electoral success in a general election otherwise, frankly, there is nothing to enter a coalition with. If the Brexit Party had electoral success assisted by Tories not standing in certain seats then the danger would be that any success they had would be seen as Tory-sponsored and this would hardly help the image of the Brexit Party.
If the Brexit Party does well in a General Election then there would be some point in the Tories considering a coalition with them. The main reason for it would be to let leave voters know that the Tory Party is serious about Brexit. Which raises the question about how short lived such a coalition would be? If we leave on October 31 there would be no point in being in a continuing coalition with the Brexit Party. Similarly there is unlikely to be a general election before October 31st. This would seem to mean that a real electoral coalition is not going to happen. Nonetheless Javid’s speech is a good form of positioning allowing the Brexit Party to know that the Tory Party aren’t the real enemies and they should concentrate their fire on the Remain parties.
It looks as though Boris Johnson will be made Prime Minister, and it remains to be seen what effect he personally will have on the Brexit question. Will his approach to Brexit and his credentials as a committed Brexiteer ameliorate the loss of trust that the Tory Party faces from the electorate? If so then he may not need to do a deal with the Brexit Party at all. A lot rides on his commitment to get us out by 31 October. If Boris is successful in living up to this commitment then the argument – and the Brexit Party – will essentially be over. If there is a delay then he will need all the help he can get. Maybe then the Tories will be seeking coalitions with whoever is offering them.