Thursday, October 22, 2020
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Boris needs the Brexit Party more than they need him

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THE principal lesson of the Brecon by-election result is that if Boris Johnson doesn’t do a deal with the Brexit Party, the Tories will be dead meat in the snap General Election that is predicted.

Brecon was a success for the Remain alliance – Plaid Cymru and the Greens stood aside to ensure a Remain party victory – in their first real electoral test. It was also a demonstration of the pressure the Brexit Party is still exerting on the Conservatives. The Tories would have kept the seat if they had taken the Brexit Party’s 3,331 votes.

This article in the Daily Mail says it all. For the education of Mr Cleverly the Remainers did not make a dirty deal, they used their common sense. A pity the Leavers failed to do so.

But better to learn the lesson from Brecon than at the General Election. Though frankly I don’t think most of the Tory boys and girls have a clue about strategy and grand tactics, and maybe not about simple tactics either. For example, who on earth decided to run with the same candidate? The Brecon poll was triggered by a recall petition after Tory MP Chris Davies was found guilty of submitting a false expenses claim. Incredibly, Davies was chosen to stand again.

Some writers, such as Paul Goodman on Conservative Home, are still talking about Boris ‘squeezing the Brexit Party’, assuming that this is his arrogant intention.

Yet in the real world the value of a Tory/Brexit pact is blindingly obvious. Yes, there are complications for both parties. The Brexit Party might put off far too many Labour voters by associating themselves with the Tories. Selling such a pact will need good salesmen but fortunately Boris and Nigel are gifted salesmen. They might have to emphasise their differences on most things apart from Brexit.

And they must select new candidates for many seats. Central Office/HQ landed the Conservative Party in this mess by selecting only Europe-lovers for nearly fifty years. Anyone who wasn’t a Europe lover was rejected. I know because it happened to me in 1973. That’s how long Europe has controlled the Tory Party. That’s where Dom Cummings should start his surgery. You won’t put a clean break through this 80 per cent Remain Parliament. An alliance could deliver a 75 per cent Leave Parliament.

Boris and Nigel cannot both win. Every Leave voter knows that Nigel has no baggage, he has split from UKIP. The Brexit Party is a brand-new animal. Boris cannot say that; he has May and all her cronies sitting on the Tory benches, all with votes and sixty-odd plotting to bring him down. There is almost bound to be a General Election this autumn or winter. I would suggest that he may find he needs the Brexit Party more than they need the Tories.

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Adrian Hill
Adrian Hill
Adrian Hill. Former soldier and diplomat, afterwards member of CBI Council and author.

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