Brexiteers must unite behind Boris Johnson or risk being trapped in the EU forever

Brexiteers must unite behind Boris Johnson or risk being trapped in the EU forever

Since the summer I have been proposing that the two pro-Brexit parties – the Tories and the Brexit Party – forge an alliance to command a considerable majority for Brexiteers in the House of Commons. After Nigel Farage’s Hartlepool announcement before the close of nominations that he was withdrawing Brexit Party candidates in Tory-held seats, I privately flirted with the idea of tactical voting; but now I believe it is time for the 17.4 million to back Boris, or else risk Brexit and a Corbyn-led government.

Critics of my previous articles have branded me a ‘sell-out’, and even a ‘Remainer’, which both my friends and family find hilarious, but it is now vital to establish why voting Conservative is the sensible option for two reasons. The first is that Boris Johnson’s deal is tolerable; and the second is that with polling as it is, Brexit is in touching distance. Many of you who are contemplating backing the Tories may tip the entire election and make for an historic December evening in a couple of days’ time.

Boris Johnson’s deal is by no means perfect. However, given the situation that he inherited in the summer, it is a tolerable deal. His agreement has not only converted voters, hence an upturn in polling, or the so-called ‘Boris Bounce’, but it has also won over prominent Brexiteers who were opposed to the vassalage that Theresa May’s agreement ensured.

From the Conservative benches, the hardline ERG supporters – notably Essex MPs Mark Francois and John Baron – are now supportive, as are other Brexiteers outside of the Commons, like Arron Banks, Lord Trimble and Martin Howe QC. Outside of politics, both the Scottish Farmers’ and Fishermen’s unions endorsed the Johnson agreement. Importantly, even Nigel Farage shifted his stance, with the assurances from Boris Johnson having proved enough for the Brexit Party to stand down in those 317 constituencies where Tories triumphed in 2017.

But what is included in Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement and what makes it so different to Mrs May’s? Most importantly, Boris Johnson’s deal has removed the concerns over the Northern Irish backstop protocol that had scope to trap the United Kingdom in the Customs Union indefinitely. His critics doubted that he could even do this, but more importantly, his deal keeps No Deal on the table as a negotiating tool, by outlining that the transition period will only last 12 months, and ensures that the EU-UK relationship post-Brexit benefits the British people.

The Political Declaration now sets out a move away from close alignment to an aspiration for a Free Trade Agreement. In its entirety, the new Withdrawal Agreement allows the United Kingdom to take back control of its money, laws and borders and Brexiteers must accept that Boris’s work to get this new deal, against the odds and the clock, as an impressive example of statesmanship.

Recent opinion polls put the Tories above 40% and with a double-digit lead over Labour. By comparison, the Brexit Party are straggling on a dismal 3% of the vote and, according to Sir John Curtice and Matthew Goodwin, are unlikely to win any seats. The significant issue is that the small percentage of loyal Faragistes could cost Brexit altogether. This election will be decided in 67 seats where the Tories are chasing and which would fall to them on a swing of 5% or less – and the more votes the Brexit Party get, the less likely the constituents in those target seats are to be represented by an MP who will deliver Brexit. As such, the only way to deliver Brexit is to ensure that there is a Conservative majority in the Commons. Farage may argue that he takes more votes from Labour than the Tories, but to the contrary, Goodwin calculated that in 2015, Farage took the significant chunk of his votes from David Cameron, and not Ed Miliband.

This Brexit election now has the potential to transform the political landscape of Britain. Over the last few weeks, Boris has won over many Labour Leavers. This is not just based on polling that indicates that the Tories are the most popular party among the working-class and Labour Leavers, but also on what many are hearing anecdotally. A London taxi driver told me the other night that, despite never having voted Tory before, he would be doing so at this election because he wants to ‘Get Brexit Done’. Boris needs to reach these kinds of voters and he is evidently succeeding: if they are reciting the same slogans as the party, then Boris must be doing something right. iNews reported a similar phenomenon when it interviewed several ex-miners in Dennis Skinner’s Derbyshire seat of Bolsover, who want to ensure that the United Kingdom leaves the EU and will, therefore, be voting for Boris Johnson on Thursday.

Boris Johnson – like Margaret Thatcher, who won over Essex man, and Benjamin Disraeli in his success with ‘Beer and Britannia’ voters – is broadening the Conservative voter base and what it means to be a ‘Tory’. It is without a doubt that this is closely aligned to Brexit. But let us not overlook how successful Boris was as London mayor. Against the odds, he was elected for two successive terms in City Hall and I firmly believe that he could do this in the country at large. This is not a promise that Boris Johnson will win all of the socialist strongholds, but there is evidence that he can be successful in redrawing the map and could smash through the ‘Red Wall’ across the Leave-voting Labour heartlands.

So this is it. This election is our ‘second referendum’. And if anything, it is more important than the vote taken on 23rd June 2016. This time Brexit is in touching distance, with a good deal, that delivers on the 2016 referendum. By voting for the Brexit Party, or any other party, the chances of leaving the EU will decrease, and the only people who hope for a Brexit Party revival are Remainers who will rejoice at the irony of Farage snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

So, we must unite, we must back Boris, we must turn that ‘Red Wall’ blue and get on with Brexit in order to unleash Britain’s global potential.