The decision taken by the Brexit Party to not stand in the 317 seats won by the Conservatives in 2017 is a big step forward towards Brexit and something this magazine has campaigned for of late:
“It seems nonsensical that people will vote for the Brexit Party in seats where they will split the vote and let a Liberal Democrat or Labour candidate win. It also seems beyond ridiculous for people to vote Conservative in seats where the Brexit Party could dislodge a Liberal Democrat or Labour MP.”
The Tories maintaining their 317 seats is key to ensuring Boris Johnson can command a majority in the House of Commons when running Brexit Party candidates risked Liberal Democrats pinching the seats as the vote split.
However, Nigel Farage’s announcement yesterday – welcome though it was – does not go far enough. There are plenty of other marginals where the Brexit Party could cancel out the Tory vote and let in a Labour or Liberal Democrat candidate. If the Tories are to win a majority – at least form a coalition with Brexit Party MPs – then more concessions need to be made. On both sides.
The Peterborough by-election example of last year was a real eye-opener. A split between the Brexit Party (28.9%) and the Conservatives (21.4%) allowed Labour to come through the middle (30.9%) and keep the seat they won by 607 votes.
This cannot be allowed to happen again.
Are we forgetting that this election – like Peterborough – is not a level playing field? How do we best counter Labour’s double-voting, block votes and postal votes from corpses? Have we not learned from the past?
The onus is on individual candidates – who will know their likely seat outcomes best – to stand down from the ballot at the latest opportunity when most data has been gathered, to ensure a Brexit alliance wins the election. This means Tories giving away certain seat chances and more Brexit Party candidates steering voters towards the Tories. Again, this magazine reiterates the need for detailed local polling in marginals to get the desired outcome right.
A good start to the alliance of Leavers in this Brexit Election – and well done to Messrs Tice and Farage – but much more collaboration is both necessary and possible.