Labour Leavers Switching to Brexit Party, Not Tories; ERG Urge Boris to Agree Election Pact

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A new study shows Leave-voting Labour voters are considering switching their support to Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party, and not Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party — lending weight to calls for the Tory leader do an election deal with Farage to secure Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Nigel Farage has repeatedly pressed Boris Johnson for an electoral non-aggression pact, in which his Brexit Party would stand aside in constituencies where the Tories are the incumbents or challengers, and the Tories would in turn stand aside in Leave-voting, predominantly working-class constituencies his own party stands the best chance of dislodging a Labour Party which has now openly repudiated its promises to respect the Leave vote and is agitating for a referendum re-run in which it would campaign for Remain.

While the former UKIP chief has already pledged to stand aside in seats held by MPs in the European Research Group (ERG) of Brexiteer Tories unilaterally, the Tory leadership thus far seems unwilling to stand aside in Labour strongholds where it has little hope of ever breaking through, but where its rump vote would likely deprive the Brexit Party of a majority — as in the recent Peterborough by-election.

That the Brexit Party is far more likely to take Leave-voting Labour strongholds from their Remain-voting Labour MPs than the Tory Party, which is something of a tainted brand for many these areas, has been all but confirmed by a new study which shows some 18 per cent of Labour Leavers are considering switching to the Farage-led organisation, while only 11 per cent are willing to get behind the Tories.

The difference appears even starker among Labour votes who identify strongly as Leavers, with some 40 per cent rating their chances of backing the Brexit Party at 6/10 or higher, compared to just 12 per cent who gave the same rating to the Tories.

“These are small numbers but they could yet make all the difference,” observed Matthew Goodwin, an academic researcher who has focused on Brexit and the rise of national populism in recent years.

“Johnson’s refusal to do a deal with Farage may well dominate post-election takes”.

Indeed, should the Tories continue to refuse to stand aside in seats they are highly unlikely to win but where the Brexit Party might win, it will be seen by some as demonstrating a preference for having Remain-supporting Labour MPs in Parliament over Leave-supporting Brexit Party MPs — throwing Johnson’s “do or die” committment to an EU exit into doubt.

The findings have prompted Steve Baker MP, the former Department for Exiting the European Union minister who now leads the European Research Group (ERG) of Brexiteer Tory MPs, to throw his full weight behind a deal with Farage’s party.

“Who knew?” he tweeted, somewhat sarcastically, in response to the news that “Labour 2017 voters [are] unlikely to vote Conservative regardless of their Brexit identity”, later adding that it was “Time for the centre right to unite around renewal through Brexit” and retweeting Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubey’s call to “Tell all your mates/family… it’s time to smash the Labour stranglehold”.

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