In a snap election only disciplined teamwork will deny Johnson the majority he cravesby Hugo Dixon / August 7, 2019 / Leave a comment
Boris Johnson and his top aide Dominic Cummings seem to think the Tories could win a snap general election. The prime minister clearly hopes that by stealing Nigel Farage’s plan to crash out of the EU without a deal, he would squeeze the Brexit Party’s vote. Meanwhile, the pro-European vote would be split so badly between Labour, the Lib Dems, the Greens and others that the Conservatives would come through the middle even if they only got around a third of the vote.
This is a frightening scenario. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Johnson can be defeated provided pro-Europeans join forces rather than fight one another in an election. They also need to foil Cummings’s plot to get us out of the EU before any election is held.
Last week’s Brecon and Radnorshire by-election shows that fielding a single “Remain Alliance” can pay dividends. Plaid Cymru and the Greens didn’t put up a candidate in order to give the Lib Dems a clean shot at the Tory-held seat—and the Lib Dems won.
Talks are underway to repeat this success elsewhere in England and Wales. It doesn’t make sense to organise a Remain Alliance in Scotland and Northern Ireland because their politics is even more complicated than in the rest of the UK.
Those who want pro-Europeans to come together in an election have to face one awkward fact: Labour is not yet a Remain party and, even if it becomes one, it is so tribal that there’s no chance of it formally joining a pact with other parties. That said, the other parties—the Lib Dems, Greens, Plaid Cymru and various independents—can and should work together.
The first principle of a Remain Alliance should be “do no harm.” That means don’t put up an alliance candidate against any Labour MP who publicly commits to fighting to stay in the EU—while fielding candidates against those who back Brexit or sit on the fence.
Because the Labour Party won’t give Remain Alliance candidates a free run anywhere, the Lib Dems and Greens will in many cases still stand against pro-European Labour candidates. But they shouldn’t do so under a common Remain Alliance banner. Nor should they put much effort into fighting these seats. Similarly, Labour shouldn’t focus its energy on Remain…