As a result of these calculations, a great deal of pressure via the media is being put on Nigel Farage and Richard Tice to pull back from standing Brexit Party candidates across the country. ‘Go and fight Labour seats with Remain-supporting MPs, but lay off seats where Tories might lose or could make gains,’ is the call.
Such a strategy might at first glance look good on paper, but it would actually be counter-productive to the Conservative desire to win an outright majority. Remember, the Conservatives must not only win seats but see Labour lose some. It helps the Conservatives for the Brexit Party to do well by taking as many of Labour’s Leave-supporting seats as possible – most especially where the Conservatives are very far behind.
From my personal experience as a one-time Conservative member for thirty years, who served two terms as a member of the Scottish Parliament and then fought and won a European Parliament seat in Labour’s heartland of the North East of England for the Brexit Party, I know there are many, many Labour voters who will never vote Conservative. They are not backwards at coming forward to tell me this. They will, however, consider however voting for the Brexit Party and in May they turned out in huge numbers to do so.
Labour voters and politicians also tell me privately that if Brexit Party candidates do not stand against Conservatives, it will be taken as proof that Farage’s new party is really the Tories in disguise and this will prevent Labour voters switching to them. It is therefore to be expected – and indeed in the Conservative Party’s own self-interest – that in the hundreds of safe Tory or Labour seats, the Brexit and Tory candidates fight each other.