Ah – the summer holidays! It’s a hard time for editors, from the august RemainCentral paper The Times down to this little patch of online Brexit stalwarts, scrabbling for news. “Sources” are on holidays as well as MPs and MEPs and, one assumes, so are at least half of our esteemed Mandarins – the other half being too scared by the new Johnson adviser who said that any leaker would be dismissed, or words to that effect.
This drought of Brexit ‘news’ has become so bad that The Express (here) has been reduced to write a report on Sir John Redwood’s Diary entry which he published yesterday and from which we already quoted yesterday morning (here).
Today, The Times, for example, has no fewer than six articles on polluted rivers, not fit to swim in. That is certainly newsworthy. But Brexit? Just like the other online MSM only one Brexit-related issue is taking up space and pixels, and that’s the result of the Brecon by election.
You’ve seen the results, but as was so very predictable, it’s back to personalities: Ms Swinson, the new LibDem leader, v BoJo and the new and old Tory bugbear, Nigel Farage. According to ‘old’ Tories, it’s Farage wot lost the election for the Tories, and Johnson is right to be categorical in rejecting a Tory-Brexit Party alliance.
Let’s take a quick look at the arithmetic in the HoC now, where Johnson’s Tories have now got only a majority of one, and how that could change, forcing a GE on Johnson:
“It has also emerged two dozen Tory MPs are considering quitting the Conservative Party in protest at the Government’s plans to leave the EU because of no-deal. Philip Lee, the Pro-EU former justice minister, said he is considering whether to defect to the Liberal Democrats, in a move that could wipe out the government’s Commons majority. Dr Lee said he feels “politically homeless” over his party’s shift towards a no-deal Brexit following Boris Johnson’s election as Conservative leader. […] The move would destroy Mr Johnson’s grip on the Commons, as he holds a parliamentary majority of two, with the support of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).” (paywalled link)
To really hammer this predicament for Johnson home, here’s more:
“One former cabinet minister said they believed swathes of seats were now at risk, including Cheltenham, Chippenham, Guildford and even Surrey Heath, the seat of Michael Gove. “Threatening no deal essentially hands our core seats across the south-west, south-east and south coast to the Lib Dems,” the ex-minister said. “We’ll lose tons of decent MPs. […] Worst of all the new northern core will never materialise – the Labour vote is tribal. It’s a suicidal vote strategy. I’m beginning to think Dominic Cummings is a Lib Dem sleeper agent.” Other Tory MPs have pointed out privately that the majority of seats where the Lib Dems are in second place are held by Conservative MPs.” (link)
Goodness me! Are only Labour voters tribal, but Tory voters never? And what’s this: a ‘sleeper agent’? It’s certainly very interesting to note that politicians are all alike once one removes their rosettes! When their Party is doing badly, it’s never their own fault or the fault of the Party’s policies – it’s always the fault of ‘sleeper agents’ who are destroying the party from inside.
We’ve pointed out in the last few months that the political landscape changed when TBP came upon the scene, that the past tribal loyalties to donkeys wearing a blue or red rosette are now crumbling. We’ve pointed out that it will be about “Leave” and “Remain”. The by election from Thursday has made that abundantly and screamingly obvious.
When the nominations for that by election were called for, both Plaid Cymru and the Green Party publicly announced they were not going to field their candidates but were instead going to support the LibDem Candidate, the Leader of the LibDems in Wales, Ms Jane Dodds. That is what is meant by an electoral pact, formed to push one agenda – ‘Remain’.
When even the Arch Remainer in RemainCentral, Matthew Parris, can see this – he is still a Tory, btw – then one wonders why those in Johnson’s High Command cannot:
“just as the Liberal Democrat, Jane Dodds, would not have won without her party’s “Remain alliance” pact with Plaid and the Greens, so Mr Davies would not have lost without the lethal intervention of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, which “stole” from him more than enough voters on the right to make the difference.” The conclusion? Those of my fellow Conservatives who are convinced our party will need some kind of non-aggression pact with Mr Farage and his friends find their case strengthened this weekend. Already I see that Steve Baker, MP, the Brexiteer ultra, is talking about it. It was a pact wot won it for Remain, and the lack of a pact wot lost it for Leave. Both sides will take note. I say “sides”. For this by-election points to the new configuration that will emerge at any early general election: the Leave/Remain divide will loom as large as the conventional party divide.” (link, paywalled)
Welcome to the new political landscape, Mr Parris! Better late than never! Johnson however still hasn’t arrived yet – he still rejects any pact:
“Boris Johnson has “absolutely no intention” of forming a pact with the Brexit Party, despite suffering his first electoral defeat after Remain parties made a pact. […] a government spokesman said the Prime Minister had “no plans at all” to make a deal with the Brexit Party, and “absolutely no intention” for any coalition with Nigel Farage.” (paywalled link)
Polling Data are making some Tories think again about this, as this report in the DM shows, with Brexiteer Tories calling for Johnson to reconsider:
“It [the by election result] also led to calls from senior Brexiteers for the Tories to consider for a pact with the Brexit Party to stave off further deals among Remain parties, after Jo Swinson, the leader of the Lib Dems, said the expected more such alliances in future. Steve Baker said: “It is becoming obvious to all now that the Brexit Party standing against the Conservative Party would produce a massive own goal.” (paywalled link)
Indeed – but many Tories do not see it that way. Instead, they are now pondering how best to defeat the LibDems, as this article in ConHome shows. And what about Labour? Ah, just look at it:
“Jeremy Corbyn finally broke cover to admit he is ‘disappointed’ today after Labour crashed to a disastrous fourth in the Brecon by-election – with the candidate almost losing his deposit. […] ‘Well it was obviously disappointing,’ he told reporters. ‘The Liberal Democrats won it after doing a deal with Plaid Cymru and the Greens. I think that a lot of voters were determined to get rid of the Conservative, and they voted accordingly. So we were squeezed, but it’s a place we have not held for a very long time. The area has changed a bit.” (link)
No worries then – it was only about getting rid of a Tory MP, so all is well. Tribal politics for Labour as usual, just as for those Tories who think their best plans to keep their seats is either to become more LibDem to keep their voters – or to ‘slay the Farage Fox’, again.
It’s been said that generals who prepare to fight a new war by using the methods with which they won the previous one will be defeated. History and military buffs will remember the “Blitzkrieg” in which the Allies were defeated in 1940 when the Germans employed new strategies.
Dusting down and using the tired slogans from the 2015 GE, according to which a vote for Farage was a vote for Labour, we’re again treated to ‘a vote for Farage is a vote for Corbyn’, and never mind Peterborough – such a long time ago! – where patently a vote for the Tories was a vote for Corbyn.
When will those politicians in the Establishment Parties grasp the fact that it’s about Remain or Brexit? That we voters are not interested in their tribal politics? That we want ‘Out’? That we will vote accordingly if Johnson does not deliver? That the rosettes won’t matter to us if he plays a game of back-sliding where we get May’s BRINO in another, a BoJo configuration? Establishment politicians: you have been warned …