This Thursday Boris expects you to give him the parliamentary majority he needs to GET BREXIT DONE. Of course, we all know that his ‘oven-ready’ deal is merely a reheat of Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement, which Boris had denounced as a dog’s breakfast. There is so much wrong with this treaty, but one of my favourite clauses is that a banker from an EU state working in London is exempt from UK law. Doesn’t that say it all?
The electorate, or at least the democratically-adherent majority, has had enough of the Brexit impasse and just wants it sorted, however unsatisfactorily. Many will vote negatively to keep Corbyn out, just as the crusty Trot will reap votes from rich Remainers desperate to stop Brexit. However, some Brexit purists refuse to participate in the pragmatism of tactical voting. Will they help or hinder their cause?
A week from polling day, I attended a rally by the Brexit Party in my constituency of Carshalton & Wallington, featuring MEPs Claire Fox and Ben Habib, alongside local candidate James Woudhuysen. It was not a good day for them. Four leading figures (Lucy Harria, Lance Forman, John Longworth and Annunziata Rees-Mogg) had quit, criticising their party for risking everything it stood for by splitting the Leave vote.
I felt sorry for Claire and colleagues. What a come-down from their last rally I attended in May, two days before the Brexit Party took the EU election by storm. From the razzmatazz of Olympia to a sparsely-populated suburban social club; from 32% in the European election to 3% in the latest opinion polls. They were enraged by the treachery, and deflated by the tiny turnout.
Two days later, I joined a larger gathering in Littlehampton for the UKIP branch’s Christmas lunch. That morning I was campaigning in the shopping precinct with David Kurten, the only Leaver on the ballot (as is the case in many Tory seats with a Remainer MP). The Labour Party also had a stall, drawing some heckling for their betrayal of the referendum verdict. It’s a safe Tory seat, but townsfolk felt taken for granted by schools minister Nick Gibb. Kurten, a UKIP stalwart on the London Assembly, hopes for enough of a vote share to send a message to a complacent Tory party.
While there is little danger in voting for UKIP in Bognor Regis & Littlehampton, it makes no sense for the Brexit Party to contest Carshalton & Wallington. This is a Leave area, but for 22 years has been represented by ardent Europhile Tom Brake. The Illberal Undemocrats are quietly pleased whenever they see Woudhuysen and his balloons on the high street. Brake’s majority has been declining, and in 2017 was a little over a thousand. The day after the Carshalton meeting, the Daily Mail highlighted this as a seat that the Brexit Party could gift to Remainers, with Woudhuysen taking three thousand votes and Brake winning by five hundred.
The young Tory Leaver would be thwarted not by Brake’s popularity, but by a Brexit Party own goal. Why are they doing this? A clue is in the campaign leaflet: the target of Woudhuysen’s ire is not the incumbent MP and his contempt for Leave voters, but the Conservatives. It seems that Farage and fellow travellers would rather derail Boris than get Brexit started. Indeed, some party figures want to go back to the drawing board, and perhaps fight the referendum battle again.
If the choice on Thursday was only between the Tories and the Brexit Party, I’d choose the latter. But in a close contest, a vote for Boris is a must for Leavers. There is, however, one exception I’d make to this policy.
In Broxtowe, Nottinghamshire, a persecuted Leave activist is standing, and she deserves support on a matter of principle. Have you ever heard of a candidate in a British general election being barred from stepping foot in the constituency, and the following count? Brazen interference of the courts in politics did not end with the Supreme Court over-ruling Boris’ prorogue of parliament.
In November Amy Della Mura, who is standing for the English Democrats, was convicted at Westminster Magistrate’s Court for causing ‘alarm and distress’ to Anna Soubry. I have met this somewhat eccentric woman at protests outside Westminster. She considers Soubry to be a traitor, and called her such. She also, according to the court, repeatedly interrupted the MP during a televised interview. Hardly a crime, you might think – particularly after Soubry likened Leavers to Nazis. But Della Mura is threatened with imprisonment (sentencing was deferred until after the election) and she cannot name Soubry in any campaign material.
This should have been a major controversy, but it was ignored by the mainstream media other than reporting the verdict as if it were normal legal practice. On Spiked website, libertarian commentator Brendan O’Neil asked ‘Is it against the law to protest against Anna Soubry?’ It seems so. Why was such a trivial incident criminalised? Why was it judged by Lady Emma Arbuthnot, wife of an old acquaintance of Soubry (James Arbuthnot, like Soubry, was a barrister and later a Tory MP)? Della Mura now has more reason to stand than her initial resistance to an insufferable Remainiac.
Meanwhile Steve Bray, the paid Remainer who incessantly shouts ‘Stop Brexit’ outside Westminster, is standing in a Welsh seat. He never had his collar tickled in over three years of interrupting MPs and telling the likes of me to ‘F off back to Wetherspoons’. Wouldn’t it be nice if Steve won, and took his place on the green benches minus his megaphone, to witness Boris GETTING BREXIT DONE.
Use your vote wisely.