The parable of the wren who rides on the back of an eagle during a competition to see which bird species could fly the highest may well be an apt metaphor when it comes to whether The Brexit Party and Conservatives should create a pact together. If The Brexit Party wants to win then it will have to allow the Conservatives to soar, well at least to a point. When questioned on the issue of there being such a pact, the constitutional historian David Starkey recently stated, “It is the moral duty of Nigel Farage and of Boris Johnson to come together, if not they will hang separately”.
Unfortunately, another parable also comes to mind when listening to top figures in both parties talk on this issue. That being the tale of the scorpion who poisons a frog while it gives the scorpion a life saving lift across a river. Whilst Farage is saying he’d like to work with the Conservatives as long as they don’t go for Theresa May’s deal, he also states that if they do so, he’ll deliberately split the vote. Meanwhile, the Conservatives are not only saying they don’t want anything to do with Farage, but are pushing the notion that a vote for the Brexit Party would be a vote for Corbyn.
What I aim to set out in this article is a strategy that does not involve a pact, well not initially, but instead a way for the Brexit Party to wield considerable influence regarding the future direction of Brexit. They may well already have considered this, however, if they have they seem to be keeping it under wraps whilst appearing to be on a possibly destructive course.
Both Peterborough and Brecon are examples of areas with very high Leave referendum results, yet have subsequently not voted in a Leave MP in their recent elections. If an area had a Leave vote of 60% or more in the referendum, then surely a leave candidate should win in an election? It should be easy, easy like a Sunday Morning trade deal? But, given the remain parties are working together, and it’s only recently that the main parties have become much clearer about their Brexit positions, is it not the right time for the two main pro leave parties to do the same?
Ironically, a formal pact between the Conservatives and The Brexit Party before an election is probably neither required or desirable. Both parties have potential voters who will be put off by an association with each other and as we will see, If anything, nearly all the power regarding a coalition will lie in the hands of Nigel Farage.
Whilst the EU elections saw a massive win for The Brexit Party it is highly unlikely that that would be repeated in a general election, however, the Brexit Party may well be able to get themselves in to a position where they can call some of the shots, especially on issues relating to Brexit, merely by following the following strategy.
Firstly, the Brexit Party should help make sure the Conservatives get around 290 seats by not standing against the 288 Tory MPs who voted against the recent Benn Bill for an extension (and therefore they were not totally against the possibility of a WTO Brexit). It should not be difficult for the Brexit Party to countenance not standing against them. (See list number 1 below of those constituencies). They will have to weigh up whether these seats are likely to win too, and if necessary make way in other constituencies to keep up the number of Tory seats. One way or the other, they need to make sure the Conservatives win close to 300. This number could be lower if The Brexit Party could be sure of winning more than 30 seats themselves, essentially the combined total of their MPs and the Conservatives should be upwards of 330 to secure a majority in The House.
Although this strategy requires the Conservatives winning a minimum of 290 seats, they should be limited to no more than 310, if they get that many they could make a deal with the DUP again. In order to keep the Conservatives from getting a majority The Brexit Party will have to split the vote in some conservative constituencies, which is also another factor that would make a pact difficult.
The upshot of all of this is that it would only take a small number of Brexit Party hopefuls to gain seats to force the conservatives in to a confidence and supply agreement, at which point The Brexit Party could lever the direction of Brexit.
How will they do this?
There are 120 Labour seats in majority Leave constituencies, so it’s probably safe to assume that if the Brexit Party field candidates in almost all these constituencies it’s very likely they could gain at least 30 seats, if not more. There are a couple of pro Deal or No Deal Labour MPs who might be better not stood against too, but generally speaking nearly all the Labour constituencies should be contested by The Brexit Party given Labour’s pro-remain stance.
What Happens if Boris Gets a Deal before an election?
Nigel Farage has recently stated that if Boris Johnson accepts a rehash of Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement then the gloves will be off and he will stand against the Tories in every one of their constituencies, even if it means no Brexit at all. For most Brexiters, even those who loathe the Withdrawal Agreement, this would be a big mistake. After all, let’s say Johnson does sign a new Treaty with the EU before the next election, would it not be better for The Brexit Part to use the strategy above to get in to the driving seat at times too and work on negating such a deal from the inside?
There are risks, of course, for instance The Conservatives could win a majority whatever strategy Farage chooses, or they may not win enough seats, but when it comes to getting a tail to wag the dog, you’re going to have to perform some amazingly surgical operations. One of the main tasks for The Brexit Party will be identifying which Conservative seats to leave alone and which to target.
There are other things The Brexit Party could do to give themselves more leverage. The first would be to offer within their manifesto a new election once Brexit had definitely been enacted, and the second would be to give way on its other policies outside of Brexit, well, at least until the following election. I spoke to Richard Tice about this at the first Brexit Rally, he was insistent that these other policies, “common sense policies”, would not lose them many votes, but if the name on the tin says Brexit, then I, and I expect many others, don’t want to find traces of other ingredients in there as well.
Of course, much depends on the situation when the next General Election comes. If Johnson manages to get a clean break from the EU then the wind will definitely have been blown out of The Brexit Party’s sails, however, if as Nigel Farage has been saying the Brexit on offer is merely a Brexit in Name Only, then there will be a good chance for the Brexit party to gain power, but as said above, definitely not by splitting the vote, especially in a reactive display of chucking out dummies, prams, babies and bathwater.
If the Brexit Party does not heed David Starkey’s warning, then it is still possible for Brexit party members to study the lists below and see what might be the best way to vote in their own constituency, even if it goes against Brexit party policy, but even so, as we’ve all heard a thousand times, when it comes to Brexit, “Brexit means Brexit”, not The Brexit Party.
What can the Brexit Party or its members do?
There are several lists below, the first is the list of Conservative MPs who voted against an extension, the second is a list of Labour MPs in Leave areas. Please double check any data below before acting on it as I may have made mistakes collating it.
1 The following 288 constituencies had MPs who voted against an extension and accepted the possibility of a no deal Brexit in the recent vote. These number around 290 which would be a good amount of Tory MP’s to “Prop up the Brexit Party” whilst not giving the conservatives enough of a majority to rule parliament by themselves.
|Constituency||First name||Last name|
|Selby and Ainsty||Nigel||Adams|
|Hitchin and Harpenden||Bim||Afolami|
|Louth and Horncastle||Victoria||Atkins|
|North East Cambridgeshire||Stephen||Barclay|
|Basildon and Billericay||John||Baron|
|North West Norfolk||Henry||Bellingham|
|Rossendale and Darwen||Jake||Berry|
|West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine||Andrew||Bowie|
|Altrincham and Sale West||Graham||Brady|
|North West Leicestershire||Andrew||Bridgen|
|Old Bexley and Sidcup||James||Brokenshire|
|Brentwood and Ongar||Alex||Burghart|
|Vale of Glamorgan||Alun||Cairns|
|Gillingham and Rainham||Rehman||Chishti|
|Bury St Edmunds||Jo||Churchill|
|Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland||Simon||Clarke|
|Folkestone and Hythe||Damian||Collins|
|Torridge and West Devon||Geoffrey||Cox|
|Chatham and Aylesford||Tracey||Crouch|
|Haltemprice and Howden||David||Davis|
|St Austell and Newquay||Steve||Double|
|Rochford and Southend East||James||Duddridge|
|Banff and Buchan||David||Duguid|
|Rutland and Melton||Alan||Duncan|
|Chingford and Woodford Green||Iain||Duncan Smith|
|Camborne and Redruth||George||Eustice|
|Bexleyheath and Crayford||David||Evennett|
|Cities of London and Westminster||Mark||Field|
|Rayleigh and Wickford||Mark||Francois|
|South East Cambridgeshire||Lucy||Frazer|
|Finchley and Golders Green||Mike||Freer|
|Bognor Regis and Littlehampton||Nick||Gibb|
|Chesham and Amersham||Cheryl||Gillan|
|Scarborough and Whitby||Robert||Goodwill|
|Ochil and South Perthshire||Luke||Graham|
|Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock||Bill||Grant|
|Maidstone and The Weald||Helen||Grant|
|Epsom and Ewell||Chris||Grayling|
|Thornbury and Yate||Luke||Hall|
|Chelsea and Fulham||Greg||Hands|
|Forest of Dean||Mark||Harper|
|Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire||Simon||Hart|
|South Holland and The Deepings||John||Hayes|
|North East Hertfordshire||Oliver||Heald|
|Sittingbourne and Sheppey||Gordon||Henderson|
|Arundel and South Downs||Nick||Herbert|
|Thirsk and Malton||Kevin||Hollinrake|
|South West Surrey||Jeremy||Hunt|
|Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner||Nick||Hurd|
|Dumfries and Galloway||Alister||Jack|
|North East Hampshire||Ranil||Jayawardena|
|Harwich and North Essex||Bernard||Jenkin|
|Morley and Outwood||Andrea||Jenkyns|
|Sleaford and North Hykeham||Caroline||Johnson|
|Uxbridge and South Ruislip||Boris||Johnson|
|Harrogate and Knaresborough||Andrew||Jones|
|Shrewsbury and Atcham||Daniel||Kawczynski|
|Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk||John||Lamont|
|Milton Keynes North||Mark||Lancaster|
|New Forest East||Julian||Lewis|
|Bridgwater and West Somerset||Ian||Liddell-Grainger|
|Hornchurch and Upminster||Julia||Lopez|
|Filton and Bradley Stoke||Jack||Lopresti|
|East Worthing and Shoreham||Tim||Loughton|
|North West Hampshire||Kit||Malthouse|
|Blackpool North and Cleveleys||Paul||Maynard|
|Plymouth, Moor View||Johnny||Mercer|
|Bexhill and Battle||Huw||Merriman|
|South Basildon and East Thurrock||Stephen||Metcalfe|
|Halesowen and Rowley Regis||James||Morris|
|Morecambe and Lunesdale||David||Morris|
|Newton Abbot||Anne Marie||Morris|
|Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale||David||Mundell|
|South East Cornwall||Sheryll||Murray|
|South West Wiltshire||Andrew||Murrison|
|Bromley and Chislehurst||Bob||Neill|
|Truro and Falmouth||Sarah||Newton|
|Hereford and South Herefordshire||Jesse||Norman|
|Tiverton and Honiton||Neil||Parish|
|Brigg and Goole||Andrew||Percy|
|Central Suffolk and North Ipswich||Daniel||Poulter|
|Hertford and Stortford||Mark||Prisk|
|Esher and Walton||Dominic||Raab|
|North East Somerset||Jacob||Rees-Mogg|
|North East Derbyshire||Lee||Rowley|
|Sutton and Cheam||Paul||Scully|
|Isle of Wight||Bob||Seely|
|South West Bedfordshire||Andrew||Selous|
|Elmet and Rothwell||Alec||Shelbrooke|
|Skipton and Ripon||Julian||Smith|
|Milton Keynes South||Iain||Stewart|
|South West Devon||Gary||Streeter|
|Beverley and Holderness||Graham||Stuart|
|New Forest West||Desmond||Swayne|
|Rochester and Strood||Kelly||Tolhurst|
|Mid Dorset and North Poole||Michael||Tomlinson|
|South West Norfolk||Elizabeth||Truss|
|Tonbridge and Malling||Thomas||Tugendhat|
|North West Cambridgeshire||Shailesh||Vara|
|Wyre and Preston North||Ben||Wallace|
|Somerton and Frome||David||Warburton|
|Boston and Skegness||Matt||Warman|
|Faversham and Mid Kent||Helen||Whately|
|Kenilworth and Southam||Jeremy||Wright|
The following list shows the Labour areas (or Labour cooperative MPs) where there were majority Leave Votes in the referendum. Most of these areas, though not all, do not have large Conservative opposition. All these areas should be sought after by the Brexit Party.
|Oldham East and Saddleworth||Debbie||Abrahams||57.90%|
|Birmingham, Hodge Hill||Liam||Byrne||50.80%|
|Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford||Yvette||Cooper||70.00%|
|Bolton North East||David||Crausby||58.10%|
|Dagenham and Rainham||Jon||Cruddas||70.00%|
|Coventry North East||Colleen||Fletcher||57.80%|
|Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough||Gill||Furniss||60.00%|
|Denton and Reddish||Andrew||Gwynne||61.40%|
|Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle||Emma||Hardy||68.00%|
|Wentworth and Dearne||John||Healey||70.00%|
|Washington and Sunderland West||Sharon||Hodgson||64.70%|
|Kingston upon Hull North||Diana R.||Johnson||59.80%|
|Clwyd South||Susan Elan||Jones||60.00%|
|Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney||Gerald||Jones||58.40%|
|Worsley and Eccles South||Barbara||Keeley||62.30%|
|Salford and Eccles||Rebecca||Long-Bailey||52.80%|
|Ellesmere Port and Neston||Justin||Madders||58.30%|
|Birmingham, Perry Barr||Khalid||Mahmood||54.20%|
|Hayes and Harlington||John Martin||McDonnell||58.20%|
|Wolverhampton South East||Pat||McFadden||67.80%|
|St Helens North||Conor||McGinn||58.40%|
|Heywood and Middleton||Liz||McInnes||62.00%|
|Newcastle upon Tyne North||Catherine||McKinnell||56.80%|
|Erith and Thamesmead||Teresa||Pearce||54.60%|
|Houghton and Sunderland South||Bridget||Phillipson||64.50%|
|North West Durham||Laura||Pidcock||55.00%|
|Bolton South East||Yasmin||Qureshi||63.10%|
|Wolverhampton North East||Emma||Reynolds||67.50%|
|St Helens South and Whiston||Marie||Rimmer||56.10%|
|Coventry North West||Geoffrey||Robinson||58.40%|
|Wolverhampton South West||Eleanor||Smith||54.40%|
|Alyn and Deeside||Mark||Tami||58.10%|
|West Bromwich East||Tom||Watson||68.20%|
|West Bromwich West||Adrian||Bailey||68.70%|
|Batley and Spen||Tracy||Brabin||59.60%|
|Feltham and Heston||Seema||Malhotra||58.30%|
|Oldham West and Royton||Jim||McMahon||62.30%|
|Stalybridge and Hyde||Jonathan||Reynolds||58.50%|
There are also several seats where the Liberal Democrats are in power but closely followed by a Conservative candidate who is willing to go for a WTO clean break, such as in my own area of Eastbourne. Also, the situation is similar in Hastings and Rye, but their current MP, Amber Rudd, is clearly not happy about a hard Brexit, so it will depend on who is the Conservative candidate and their leanings regarding Brexit as to whether The Brexit Party should field a candidate. In some ways, as long as the Conservatives get around 300 but no more than 310 seats and The Brexit Party get enough to create a partnership with them then The Brexit Party can get something more akin to their vision of Brexit.
[list 3] Coming soon –