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Sunday, September 20, 2020
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New data raises spectre of Leave vote splitting

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BRITAIN Elects, a poll aggregation and election analysis site, is putting out data on Twitter which is making Leavers shudder. Its base data comes from up-to-date constituency polling by Survation. First to come was Portsmouth South.

Currently held by Labour, it would take a mere 1.7 per cent vote swing from the 2017 general election result to go back to the Tories. Portsmouth South voted Leave in the referendum. But the Britain Elects data shows the LibDems currently polling at 30 per cent, Conservatives at 27 per cent –

and the Brexit Party at 14 per cent.

So there you have it, our first heads-up that Leavers’ concerns about the impact of a split Leave vote are real. Then yesterday it became clear that the same narrative applies to Gedling, Nottinghamshire.

This too is currently held by Labour. It also voted to leave the EU. Gedling could swing back to the Tories with a swing of 4.5 per cent from the 2017 election results. However, the hope of it doing so may slip away.

Constituency voting intentions by Survation shows Labour on 42 per cent, the Conservatives on 37 per cent – and the Brexit Party on a vote-splitting 13 per cent. If the Conservative and Brexit parties keep going like this, another potential Leave seat bites the dust. You don’t need many more of these and you have a Remain parliament. Then, will the fight for Brexit be over for another generation?

The problem is that the way the split Leave vote is impacting potential outcomes in Portsmouth South and Gedling is likely to recur in many constituencies.

It doesn’t matter much in seats which are strongholds for this or that party. But many of our constituencies are marginals. A few hundred votes this way or that way will determine the outcome of the election. If we didn’t have so many marginals, the Brexit Party’s strategy of contesting all 600 or so seats would not matter so much. But we do – and it does.

Take Dudley North. It voted to leave the EU by 71 per cent. Labour took the seat in the 2017 election by 22 votes. With that level of Leave support, this is an obvious potential gain for the Tories. But will the Brexit Party split the Leave vote? How will it not?

There are about 60 seats the Tories could win with a swing towards them of five per cent or below, based against the 2017 election results. See them here. Many of these are in Leave strongholds.

There are also about 40 seats the Tories could lose with swings of under three per cent. See them here. 

So that is 100 seats which a split Leave vote could lose for Leave. If Leave wins these, there is your Leave majority parliament – and we start the next step in our national journey to leave the EU, to face outwards to the world and to rebuild our democracy at home. But if we lose them, who knows?

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Caroline ffiske
Caroline ffiske
Caroline ffiske is a former adviser to the New Zealand Government, served two terms as a Conservative councillor in Hammersmith & Fulham and is currently a full-time mother. She tweets as @carolinefff

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