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(Graph created by the author)
I’ve been a Brexiteer for many years now, voting UKIP back in the days when the Conservatives seemed completely unable to offer any hope for leaving the European Union then taking the next step by becoming a UKIP activist shortly after the heady days of the 2014 European Elections; trudging the pavements of Newark, leafleting and spending a day ‘Telling’ during that By-Election, on behalf of Roger Helmer.
Following that, running the Rutland & Melton UKIP Parliamentary Campaign in 2015 on behalf of our candidate, Richard Billington, a good year for UKIP both here, where we quadrupled our vote-share and across the country where the Party pulled in nearly four million votes for the first time ever. I’ve worked as an Election Agent and have stood as a UKIP Councillor Candidate and having left that Party in 2017, following the shambolic Leadership saga and the farcical Stoke By-Election, became a Brexit Party Supporter and a Candidate applicant for the European Elections this year.
And now, this month, I have joined the Conservative Party…
Why? Many factors. For me, personally, the positivity of Johnsonian Conservativism strikes a chord after the years of Theresa May misery – the true ‘purgatory’ in recent memory. The fact that despite all the naysayers, Boris has actually come back with a deal, a deal that is better than Theresa May’s and, most importantly, a deal that has won the support of Jacob Rees-Mogg, the European Research Group, the ‘Spartans’ and others. At the same time, having spent my life in business, I’m only too aware that, very often, the first deal struck is not the best possible for either party. But, it’s a starting point.
Facts and circumstances shift as time moves on and that starting point can be built on to improve the deal yet further. The alternative to supporting Boris’s deal is to stay stuck in a continual cycle of depression and extension, endlessly damaging British business and watching the Referendum result that Brexiteers like myself worked so hard to achieve, being gradually whittled away, until we end up Remaining in the EU by default.
And that last point is why it is so important that the Brexit Party and the Conservatives reach an accommodation when it comes to the General Election in December – in exactly the same way that Remainers are doing on the other side of the argument. Even if this means that big egos, on both sides, have to be swallowed for the sake of the greater good.
Even a quick look at the Election statistics from 2017 (and acknowledging the fact that there have been some changes since) shows that the Conservatives have over 250 seats where their majority was greater than 10% in 2017. These are seats where the Brexit Party should not stand a candidate at all, because it’s a waste of their activists’ time and Party resources but mostly because it can only split the Leave vote, possibly letting a Remain candidate in, in seats with the lower percentile margins, which is the last thing either Party wants. This figure includes, by the way, the current Speaker’s seat, Buckingham, where John Bercow enjoyed a comfortable 48.83% majority in 2017. The same should also be said for the sixty-seven Conservative seats won with less than a 10% margin especially with respect to over forty where Leave won the day during the Referendum.
However, there are over fifty Labour seats where, in 2017, Labour won with a margin of less than 10% and of these, nearly forty voted to Leave in the Referendum. These include seats in the so-called ‘Labour Northern Heartlands’ such as Blackpool South and Workington which the Conservatives might have less chance of taking due to traditional ‘tribal loyalties’ although, in the light of what has taken place over the last three years, loyalties which must now be sorely tested! These are the seats where the Brexit Party should focus its resources, which after all are somewhat more limited than the Conservative Election machine and conversely, seats which the Conservatives, under Boris Johnson, should give the Brexit Party a clear run at.
Sensible compromise at this stage could well result in the country returning a strong, pro-Brexit Government with a large majority, guaranteed support from the first Brexit Party MPs to enter the Commons (quite possibly a larger ‘bloc’ than the DUP one) and the potential to negotiate decisively with the EU thus setting aside all the scare-mongering about the ‘Transition Period being indefinitely extended’ etc etc.
Unless both Party Leaders reach some sort of accord then there is a very real danger that Leave vote-splitting could result in another hung Parliament, a Lib-Lab pact, the revocation of Article 50 and the UK remaining trapped within the EU after three and a half years of the Referendum result being explicitly denied by Parliamentarians, despite the British people voting, by a clear and decisive majority to Leave. The damage to democracy will be irrevocable.
Brexiteers, like myself, will not thank Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson if their unwillingness to compromise results in the ultimate irony: Britain remaining in the EU by default.