Boris’ Tightrope

BY DAVID EYLES

What happens if Boris Johnson gets to an election pre-Brexit without a pact with the Brexit Party? Or succumbs to agreeing a reheated May withdrawal agreement with the EU?

Taking Cornwall as a microcosm, there are six Tory MP’s whose seats would be up for grabs with majorities ranging from 312 to over 17,000:

Screenshot 2019-08-30 at 08.09.00

The above model shows what happens with a move away from Conservatives and towards the Brexit Party as the Conservatives are punished by the electorate for having failed to deliver a meaningful departure from the EU in good time. It reflects two possible outcomes, the second of which is more extreme but entirely within the bounds of possibility:

  • The first scenario is that 20% of all Conservative voters transfer their votes to the Brexit Party. The voters who voted for UKIP in 2015 all transfer their votes to the Brexit Party.
  • The second scenario is where 50% of all Conservative voters transfer their votes to the Brexit Party and all UKIP voters do likewise.

Assuming the Brexit Party stand in every seat in Cornwall, the actual percentage of Conservative voters who transfer their votes to the Brexit Party will vary according to the characteristics of each constituency, the incumbent MP and the quality of the Brexit Party candidate.

As things stand at the moment and with a re-heated May-type Withdrawal Agreement, the anger of the electorate with the political establishment and especially the Conservative Party, will be profound. In Cornwall, in a fairly mild shift in voter allegiance, the most likely outcome will be that both the Conservatives and Labour lose votes to the Brexit Party. This will help the Liberal Democrats who will gain seats on the back of these splits from the two main parties – because the Lib Dems will attract most of the Remain voters.

However, a more radical shift of 50% in voter allegiance away from the Conservatives and towards the Brexit Party, shows that the Conservatives lose all their Cornish seats.

Boris is in tricky waters but a pact with Farage could see a huge victory across the board. High political stakes – as Cummings suggested, this is a time for Fonzies.

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