I never thought I’d say it, but we Brexiteers have to trust a Tory to deliver Brexit – or risk no Brexit at all

I never thought I’d say it, but we Brexiteers have to trust a Tory to deliver Brexit – or risk no Brexit at all

It’s not easy changing political parties although Boris Johnson’s hero and mine, Winston Churchill, did it twice, moving from the Conservatives to the Liberals in 1904 and back again in 1925. I joined the Conservatives in October, following the Prime Minister’s successful negotiation of a deal with the EU and its endorsement by the likes of Jacob Rees-Moggs, the European Research Group and the Tory ‘Spartans’, amongst others. Of course, the deal subsequently passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons, only to be stymied by the Remainer Parliament’s denial of the Programme Motion.

Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party campaign launch and his subsequent stance on the General Election has convinced me that I made the right decision, although I have been accused of naivety and of having ‘rejoined’ or been ‘recaptured’ by the Tories (ironic as I’ve never been a member before) by other Brexiteers…

One comment that has often been directed at me over the last couple of weeks is ‘Never trust a Tory’ – and that is a sentiment that I would personally have previously endorsed, following the way Theresa May cynically abused the trust given to her by millions of Brexit supporters who lent her their vote in 2017. However, this time around, I think that we must ‘trust a Tory’ – that Tory being Boris Johnson.

Why? Because it’s necessary to take a long, hard look at the realpolitik and consider the options and likely outcomes.

Firstly, there are some misty-eyed Faragistas out there who dream of a Brexit Party majority after December 12th based on the 2016 Leave figures (somewhat similar to Jo Swinson’s extrapolation of the Remain result). This is pure La La Land, as anyone who has been involved in serious campaigning will know.

The fact of the matter is that the majority of British voters tend to be fairly conservative (with a small ‘c’), with their vote and that vote can only be pulled so far, even on issues like Brexit. Britain is not some excitable South American regime where massive sways in popular support can topple regimes overnight and this is why marginal seats are so very important here. So, we can forget that idea for starters.

The second option is that Labour gets a majority – what happens then? Well quite apart from the catastrophe of having a Marxist Prime Minister who has openly endorsed terrorists and who would introduce a Cabinet made up of individuals whose ability to run the country appears doubtful to say the least (especially with the Labour proclamations on a four-day week and the Telford speech implying that young people should not have to ‘pay their way in life’, coupled with a desire to extend the franchise to those same young people), we face the spectacle of watching Labour negotiating a truly Brexit In Name Only deal, to the delight of the EU. They would then campaign against it in a so-called ‘People’s Vote’, which will offer us a choice of Remaining or… Remaining.

Thirdly, Jo Swinson, self-declared Prime Minister-in-waiting, has claimed that her Liberal Democrats can win ‘hundreds of seats’, and then install her as a ‘much better Prime Minister than Johnson or Corbyn’. Realpolitik again dictates that this claim is unlikely to be fulfilled; however she could bring in around forty seats and with a split Brexit vote this would undoubtedly result in a hung parliament. That would then likely see a Remain Coalition Government leading to all of the previously mentioned outcomes, the SNP being given another referendum on Scottish Independence leading to the break-up of the Union and, if the Lib Dems held enough seats, the revocation of Article 50 and the cancellation of Brexit altogether.

So, for Brexiteers generally, the only hope for Brexit is to vote in a pro-Brexit Tory Government, even if it does mean ‘trusting a Tory’.

Following on from that conclusion, the best guarantee to ensure that the Tories can be trusted, post-election, is for the Brexit Party to establish a decent voting (pressure) bloc in Parliament – look at what the DUP achieved with only ten MPs. And this is why Nigel Farage’s opening gambit was, to me, wrong-headed. Issuing a time-limited demand that the Tories give the Brexit Party a clear run at 150 seats, (following on from previous demands that the Benn ‘Surrender’ Act be adhered to and an Article 50 extension requested), was an offer obviously designed to be refused.

A look at the 2017 General Election results shows that the Conservatives were returned in nearly 70 seats with a margin of less than 10%, (55 of which voted to Leave); 40 of those were with a margins of less than 5% of which 30 had voted to Leave in 2016. Take three very key marginals in particular which are currently held by the Tories: Thurrock (majority: 345 / 0.69%), Stoke-on-Trent South (majority: 663 / 1.59%) and Mansfield (majority: 1,057 / 2.51%). The Brexit Party running candidates in these can only result in both the Tories and Brexit Party failing to win. Where’s the sense in that Conversely, Labour too has its share of very slim marginals based on the 2017 figures, 54 of which they won by a majority of below 10%, (36 Leave-backing), and 30 of those beneath 5%, of which 11 voted to Leave.

Meanwhile, it’s clear that there are between 30 and 50 marginal ‘Labour Heartland’ seats where the Conservatives would have a hard job winning even die-hard Leavers to their cause (especially in ex-mining areas), but where the Brexit Party could most certainly win. By reaching a sensible accommodation with the Conservatives and not standing in every possible seat, December 13th could see the Brexit Party in Parliament with twice as many seats as the DUP currently have, possibly more – and this is the target they should be aiming at. A strong pro-Brexit Conservative Government backed by a significant voting bloc of Brexit Party MPs would give Boris Johnson the mandate needed to negotiate firmly and conclusively with the EU, end fears of endless Transition Period extensions and deliver this country the Free Trade Agreement it deserves.

But this outcome will not be reached if the Brexit Party under Nigel Farage’s captaincy pursue their current course. Under their current approach, one of the other, non-Brexit outcomes is far more likely. On a practical note too, there is the sheer waste in activists’ time and candidates’ money of the Brexit Party campaigning in ultra-safe constituencies, like my own, Rutland and Melton, where they have no chance of winning.

The Brexit Party candidate and his team here are busy holding street stalls here and collecting nomination signatures in a constituency where, in UKIP’s best ever result, the 2015 General Election, (where they quadrupled their voteshare and won nearly 10,000 votes), the incumbent Tory, Sir Alan Duncan, still managed to put on 2,000 votes (and added a further 6,000 in 2017). The Brexit Party candidate and his team would be far better engaged spending their time and money campaigning in nearby Labour marginals than here and this situation too is reflected across the country.

Nigel Farage risks deflecting the Brexit ship directly into the Remain iceberg. How ironic it would be if the man who brought us the chance to Leave the EU in the first place is remembered as the one that destroyed that hope.