Liberal Democrats leader Jo Swinson has admitted that Nigel Farage’s decision to stand down Brexit Party candidates in hundreds of seats held by Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party may stop her from taking Tory seats.
“We had polling internally – but there was public polling as well – that showed that in a scenario where you have the Lib Dems, Labour, the Tories and the Brexit party all around 20 per cent with a few of the other parties, then in a first-past-the-post system that can create a lot of volatility,” she said — suggesting that she had counted on a combination of Tory Leavers defecting to the Brexit Party and Tory Remainers defecting to her party would have allowed her to “come up the middle” in a number of constituencies and win them with a relatively small plurality of votes.
Farage, however, took the unilateral decision to stand down candidates in hundreds of seats already held by the Conservatives — after Boris Johnson repeatedly refused to put together a formal election pact — in order to prevent anti-Brexit challengers from doing this in Tory areas.
This “cosy stitch-up”, as Swinson called it, made “the electoral arithmetic much more difficult.”
“There are clearly many seats that are Tory-held that we’d have had a much better chance of winning had the Brexit party not stood aside for the Conservatives,” she admitted to the Observer.
The More Voters See of Lib Dem Leader Jo Swinson, the Less They Like Her: Poll https://t.co/Dnk1M7icC5
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) November 19, 2019
Despite Boris Johnson’s refusal to make any effort to avoid splitting the Brexit vote anywhere in Great Britain, much of the commentariat and many Leave supporters have suggested Nigel Farage’s decision to stand aside in Tory-held seats for the upcoming snap election, and his failure to stand aside everywhere could cost the governing seats it might otherwise have won.
Farage, however, is adamant that outside of constituencies the Conservative Party has traditionally held, the Brexit Party vote is coming from Labour supporters rather than Tory supporters at a rate of about two to one, meaning the tendency for commentators to suggest the Brexit Party vote would have gone entirely to the Tories if they had not stood would be mistaken.
In fact, the veteran Brexit campaigner has suggested in a Sky News interview, the Brexit Party peeling votes off the Labour Party is putting the Tories within “striking distance” of winning a plurality of votes in constituencies they would have had no chance in was the Brexit Party not standing.
He also suggested that there is life for the Brexit Party beyond Brexit, and that it will continue to challenge the political establishment and status quo by “reform[ing] into the Reform Party” — teasing that he has registered the name already.