The Conservative Party faces a local election backlash in 3 weeks if Brexit is not delivered, says a polling expert.
Conservative peer Lord Hayward said that the Tories face a “Brexit penalty” at the ballot box if Brexit is delayed beyond the date of the local elections, due on May 2nd, reports Sky News.
However, if the Conservatives can deliver on Brexit before then by finding and securing a deal, they will be beneficiaries of an electoral boost. The Conservative polling guru was quoted as saying “There is a Brexit benefit to the government if there is a deal.” Adding “There is clearly a disadvantage, disbenefit, a deficit to the Tory party to not having a deal.”
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A little over half of the 8,374 seats being contested in the local elections are Conservative and this could mean “target practice” for other parties, Hayward warned.
This prediction comes for local elections that are due to take place just weeks before another set of votes which the government laid the legal framework for Monday night — the May 2019 European Parliament elections — which the United Kingdom wasn’t even supposed to be participating in. While the country was due to leave the European Union on March 29th, the withdrawal date has been suspended until this week, and likely again into the future.
Taking part in EU elections almost three years after the country voted to leave the bloc will likely be the clearest sign yet to voters that Brexit is not going ahead, and could lead Eurosceptics to move to punish mainstream parties for their failure to deliver on promises at the ballot box. William Cash, a pro-Brexit Conservative Member of Parliament recently warned against the damage that taking part in the elections could bring, remarking: “All over the country there is a firestorm about the fact we could be involved in European elections.”
Fellow Tory Brexiteer Andrew Bridgen said in February of his party’s failures: “The Brexit party being formed is a Damocles sword hanging over the future of the Conservative Party and the Government.
“If we don’t deliver the Brexit that we promised the British people, quite rightly we’re going to be punished at the polls.”
It is expected that the Conservatives will fare far worse on May 2nd’s local elections than in the 2015 polls, which were held on the same day as the general election that saw then-Prime Minister David Cameron win a majority in the house of commons.
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The elections are due to be fought in most English cities apart from London and Birmingham and many seats, as well as control of several councils, are thought to be up for grabs by opposition parties. It is predicted by Comres and Lord Hayward that the Liberal Democrat and Green parties will be the main beneficiaries of an anti-Conservative vote in the event that no Brexit deal is agreed before the elections.
Securing a deal before the elections remain unlikely, however, as Theresa May travels to Paris and Berlin today to beg French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel for an extension to the UK’s departure date from the EU, currently scheduled for Friday, April 12th. The meetings come ahead of a key summit in Brussels on Wednesday in which the 27 other EU leaders will decide whether to grant the UK an extension or not.
The Prime Minister has recently been engaged with talks with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn over a compromise Brexit deal. It is understood that Mr Corbyn is seeking assurances about a customs union deal, something which Mrs May has long ruled out, though she may be tempted to cave to the Labour leader’s demands in order to get a deal to pass the House of Commons.