A Johnson-Farage alliance is the stuff of Remainer nightmares—but it wouldn't be much good for Nigel Farage, eitherby Chaminda Jayanetti / August 15, 2019 / Leave a comment
A grand alliance between Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage is the fever nightmare of Remainers. Uniting the Leave vote at a Brexit election while the Remain vote is split could sweep the Conservatives to their first comfortable majority in more than thirty years, giving Johnson the kind of power to reshape Britain that no Tory since Thatcher has enjoyed.
But while such a deal offers the prospect of Johnson commandeering Theresa May’s rusting tanks and ploughing them through Labour’s heartlands, few ask what the Brexit Party would gain from it. It is just assumed that the Tories would win in the south and the Midlands, while Farage would mop up Labour’s post-industrial seats in the north.
The trouble is, the numbers don’t support this. Evidence from the European elections suggests that Farage’s greatest electoral clout is in the middle-class south—the beetroot-faced Beryls and Geralds of the Tory shires, hyperventilating at any wisps of progress that may penetrate their £300,000 houses. These seats are, for the most part, solidly Conservative. The Brexit Party would have to stand aside here in any deal with the Tories.
But many of Labour’s heartland seats are also Tory targets. They were ‘Redkip’ territory once—UK Independence Party targets from the mid-2010s, when the party almost took Heywood and Middleton in a by-election. But Ukip’s implosion ceded this turf to the Tories in 2017, and as a result, the Brexit Party finds itself on the margins.
Many seats where the Tories and Ukip were virtually level pegging in 2015 are now prime Tory targets. In Dudley North, for example, Ukip’s vote share collapsed from 24 percent in 2015 to 5.5 percent in 2017, while the Tories gobbled up its support to slash Labour’s majority from nearly 4,200 to just 22 votes. The Brexit Party can stop the Tories from winning this seat next time, but there’s no way it would be allowed to challenge for it under any Johnson-Farage deal.
The same is true of other former Ukip targets such as Great Grimsby and Rother Valley—both now as firmly in Dominic Cummings’ sights as they were in the 2016 referendum.