Tory Brexiteers need to lend UKIP their support now if we are to ensure the Chequers plan is scrapped

Tory Brexiteers need to lend UKIP their support now if we are to ensure the Chequers plan is scrapped

Oh dear, what a mess. The feeling that Theresa May was quietly selling out Brexit while publicly paying lip service to it that I wrote about several times for this site has turned out to be true. And in spades.

As Hugh Bennett explained in his excellent analysis, the Chequers plan is not proper Brexit. It turns Britain into a pure Brussels rule-taker. And neither have I heard any convincing explanation of how Mrs May can ever take us out of her proposed “time limited” Irish backstop arrangement (the one without a specified end date), given that Ireland and the EU have the power to rule whether UK proposals to “solve” the border issue are permissible.

So where do we go from here? Is Brexit sunk? Are we to be, as Boris Johnson puts it, left in permanent anti-democratic limbo?

Not necessarily. I have a plan and it involves all Tory true Brexiteers in the country doing something they might find alien: switching support to UKIP temporarily (permanent recruits would naturally also be welcome, but this is not essential to the plan).

Now before you think “he would say that, wouldn’t he?”, hear me out. Yes, I am a UKIP MEP, but I am not tribal about my Brexit politics. For instance, I was the only UKIP MEP to support – and in writing too – the case for Tory-dominated Vote Leave to be the designated Leave campaign. You can imagine how popular that made me within my own party.

I have enjoyed working with Leavers of all stripes and have invited Conservative MEPs and Labour Leave representatives alike to speak at my public meetings in the East of England. Since leaving political journalism for elected politics my guiding star has been what is best for Brexit.

If the Conservatives carry on following Mrs May’s course – selling-out Brexit after a secret stitch-up despite having promised voters that “Brexit means Brexit” – then this issue will do to them what the Iraq War did to Blairism. But under my plan, the Conservative brand can recover and go from strength to strength – so it is very much in your own interests.

Here is what we do. From now, the Tory Leavers among you should lend their support to UKIP. You tell pollsters you would vote UKIP were there a general election tomorrow. You actually do vote UKIP in any local or parliamentary by-election that takes place in your patch. The results of this will very quickly be felt. UKIP’s poll rating, which has already risen from 3% to 7 or 8% on the back of the Chequers sell-out, will soar well into double figures. The Conservative score, which has already fallen back by an equivalent amount, will lose another five points or so.

Suddenly the polls will show that from a situation of being ahead of Corbyn’s Labour just a few weeks ago, the Tories will be ten points behind and facing a wipe-out at the next general election. Conservative MPs will therefore be forced to dump the Chequers approach and return to planning a proper Brexit. They will very probably at this juncture also decide to dump Theresa May and impose a premier who is a true Leaver and can better command the loyalty of Leave voters – I would personally welcome that, but I shall leave that side of things up to you Conservatives as from my point of view it ranks more as a “nice to have” than an essential. Changing the policy is the really essential bit.

I should also add here that while the UKIP leadership would no doubt also wish to attract the votes of irate Labour leavers, it is important that any UKIP poll surge is driven primarily by tactical Tory switching. We need an asymmetric impact for my plan to deliver the shock into Tory high command that is required. If UKIP takes three points off the Tories and another three off Labour, the political shock will be greatly reduced.

Under my plan in effect, the Leave vote will be using UKIP as a tool – and a fairly blunt instrument at that. It will pretty much be a re-run of the UKIP effect of 2010-2013, when our poll rise changed David Cameron’s disposition from being entirely against holding an In/Out referendum to being entirely in favour.

And once the plan succeeds – my prediction would be well before the autumn is out – then of course you Brexit Tories would go flooding back to your rescued pro-Brexit party. If the policy and leadership switch was bold enough then I anticipate you would actually take many longtime ‘Kippers with you too.

Now, I appreciate many of you will not be keen on some of the stances on other issues taken up by the UKIP leadership of late. You would not be alone in that. I am not asking any of you to fall in love with UKIP or to become a permanent member. But if Brexit is what you really care about – as well as the long-term electability of the Conservative Party – then please lend UKIP your votes for a little while and watch with delight as your Government regains its senses and prospects for a real Brexit are immeasurably improved.