Come 9th June, a substantially higher proportion of its MPs will be long-time Brexiteersby Alex Dean / May 19, 2017 / Leave a comment
It is widely forecasted that Theresa May is heading for an historic victory on 8th June—but just how historic?
According to Election Forecast UK, May could win up to 468 seats next month, a gain of 138. She could very well soon make the short list of leaders who have delivered three-figure gains in just one go. It’s 20 years since Blair managed it in 1997, but you have to go back to 1945 to find another example, when Labour gained a whopping 239 seats. Margaret Thatcher won by a huge margin in 1983—but she only gained 38 seats.
The crucial question is: will this make the PM’s job any easier? Perhaps not. For various reasons a large majority could actually end up getting in her way. One particular problem will confront May if she returns a sizeable majority next month: the 2017 Tory intake will be overwhelmingly pro-Brexit when compared with the Tory Party now. Nick Kent, who authored recent research on this subject for the campaign group InFacts, confirms: “The outcome of the general election is likely to be a swing towards Euroscepticism among Conservative MPs.” This could leave May with little wiggle room during the coming Brexit negotiations.
The Tory candidate list is not pleasant reading for Remainers. First, look at seats which the Conservatives already hold, whose MPs are stepping down in June. There are 12 of them, several of which were previously held by prominent Remainers. Tatton is one, which was held by George Osborne—a tiger of the “Remain” cause. Chichester, held by prominent Europhile Andrew Tyrie, is another. In total, eight of the 12 are held by Remainers.
The group which will replace them looks rather different. Just three of them backed Remain last year. Vicky Ford, standing in Chelmsford, was probably the most prominent of them: she is currently a Tory MEP. Three came out for Leave, while another three have no recorded preference. To repeat: just 33 per cent of Conservative candidates in these seats lent their backing to Remain. As Kent explains, “Given that more than half of Tory MPs supported Remain in the referendum, this is a significant shift.” Already it’s looking troubling for May and any compromise she might want to strike with Europe.