This is the Brexit general election. It is about trying to save Brexit from being reversed or overridden by a newly-returned House of Commons, dominated by Remainers, claiming a fresh mandate to implement or ignore last year’s referendum result as it sees fit.
UKIP’s object in this general election is therefore simple. It should be to try to ensure that the new House of Commons has as many Brexit MPs and as few Remainer MPs as possible. UKIP can do this by supporting in each constituency that candidate who is a genuine Brexiteer and who has the best chance of winning irrespective of their party affiliation.
Traditional party labels are meaningless in this situation. This election is a rerun of last year’s referendum. There are therefore only two types of candidate: Brexit candidates and Remain candidates. Many Remainers recognise this, working to create an anti-Brexit campaigning and tactical voting coalition in initiatives like the “Progressive Alliance” or Gina Miller’s “Best for Britain” campaign. Brexiters need to reciprocate by trying to create a cross-party pro-Brexit alliance. As others here have said, the interests of the country come before the interests of UKIP as a party.
I would like to see the UKIP leadership make an announcement in the next few days along the following lines:
“SUGGESTED UKIP STATEMENT:
The General Election scheduled for 8th June 2017 has been called specifically to strengthen the government’s position on the UK’s exit from the European Union. UKIP’s founding purpose and reason for being has always been to achieve the UK’s complete and full exit from the EU.
Given the special circumstances of the forthcoming election, and given UKIP’s belief that it is imperative in the national interest for the UK to achieve a complete and full exit from the EU, the Single Market and the Customs Union as soon as possible and without any transition period, UKIP proposes, in this general election only, to coordinate its electoral strategy in a way to maximise electoral support for a full exit from the EU by not competing with like-minded candidates from other parties where those other candidates have, in UKIP’s assessment, a better chance than UKIP of being returned.
Further, in order to make best use of its limited electoral resources, UKIP will take into account the results of last year’s EU referendum in deciding where best to devote its resources in the forthcoming election campaign.
UKIP therefore will not contest every constituency in the forthcoming election but will put forward candidates in constituencies according to the following principles:
Principle 1: UKIP will not stand a candidate in any electoral area which voted Remain in last year’s EU referendum. UKIP supporters in those Remain-voting areas will be advised to vote for whichever candidate in their constituency supported Brexit in the EU referendum and has the best chance of winning or, in the absence of such a candidate, the Conservative candidate.
Principle 2: In the case of constituencies in areas which voted Leave in last year’s referendum, where the constituency in question is presently held by either Conservative or Labour and where that incumbent party fields a candidate who has a provable record as a consistent and genuine Brexit-supporter before and/or during last year’s referendum campaign the UKIP candidate will stand aside in favour of that incumbent candidate, and any UKIP members in that constituency will be given permission, in this election only to campaign, using UKIP literature, in favour of that incumbent party candidate.
Principle 3: In the case of constituencies in areas which voted Leave in last year’s referendum, where the constituency in question is presently held by either Conservative or Labour and that incumbent party fields a candidate who does NOT have a provable record as a consistent and genuine Brexit- supporter before and/or during last year’s referendum campaign the UKIP candidate will stand against that incumbent party candidate unless the party which came second in the constituency in the 2015 election (not being UKIP) fields a candidate who has a provable record as a consistent and genuine Brexit-supporter before and/or during last year’s referendum. In this case the UKIP candidate will stand aside in favour of that second-placed candidate and any UKIP members in that constituency will be given permission in this election only to campaign, using UKIP literature, in favour of that second-placed party candidate.
Principle 4: Notwithstanding anything in the above, UKIP reserves the right to field a candidate in any constituency where UKIP judges the national interest or the interest of justice and fairness to require it, for example if the incumbent party has been investigated for election expense irregularities in a recent election. If both the incumbent party and the second-placed party (not being UKIP) field provable pre-referendum Brexit-supporting candidates UKIP will decide in the circumstances which candidate to support.”
These principles may need tweaking but the underlying aim is clear: unite behind whichever party has the best-chance, genuine Brexit candidate in that constituency.
Often in politics principle and pragmatism conflict. But in adopting the above position principle and pragmatism coincide. It is a principled position because it puts country before party and protects UKIP from the charge of splitting the Brexit vote so as to let in the Remainer LibDems. But it is also a very pragmatic position because it strengthens the hand of Brexiteers in the Conservative and Labour Parties in the selection of their candidates. They can point out that if provable pro-Brexit candidates are chosen UKIP will stand aside in their favour. It is also pragmatic because it enables UKIP to devote its resources to contesting those constituencies where UKIP will have the most chance of success, namely constituencies where both of the following conditions are met: the constituency voted Leave in the referendum and neither the incumbent party candidate nor the second-placed party candidate (assuming this is not UKIP) is a provable pre-referendum Brexiteer.