With no MPs, no MEPs and no councillors news that the Conservatives are considering an electoral pact with the Brexit Party has been roundly slammed this week.
Nigel Farage’s new party has made considerable gains in the run-up to the European Elections and, along with a surge in Remain-supporting parities, threatens to condemn the Tories to fifth place in the polls if results go the way they are expected.
A senior Conservative suggested that his party should make a pact with the Brexit Party to avoid a further mauling, and as barmy as it sounds, they have a good point. According to the latest polling data just 20 per cent of 2017 Conservative voters say they intend to vote for them again in the EU elections, with 62 per cent saying they will be backing the Brexit party instead.
With the country more polarised than ever over Brexit uniting the right seems like the only way the Conservatives can survive in the next General Election, and Labour faces a similar dilemma too. Over 40 per cent of its 2017 support base say they will go Lib Dem/Green/CHUK in the next elections, highlighting the need for a significant re-think on Brexit.
Last year it was found that over 75 per cent of its party members want a vote on the Brexit deal and to stay in single market and the customs union. The results flew in the face of the oft-touted argument that Labour risks losing votes in its heartlands over Brexit. Just because those votes were registered in Labour constituencies it doesn’t necessarily mean it was Labour voters who backed Brexit- and that’s an important point.
More people than ever now realise that Brexit is not a working class demand. It has always been a rightwing project. As Peter Kellner notes here: “The largest block of leave voters were middle-class Conservatives, followed by working-class Conservatives. Just one in eight leave voters was a working-class Labour supporter.”
He added: “One central fact is now beyond dispute: The recent slump in Labour’s support has been caused by the desertion of voters who want the UK to stay in the European Union”. Mr Corbyn needs to realise that quick if he wants the party to thrive and not just survive.