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An Election Guide For Remainers

20/04/2017 08:24

Suppose you are one of the 16,141,241 people who voted a year ago for the UK to remain in the European Union. How are you going to vote on 8 June?

Here is the Lustig Election Guide for Remainers:

First of all, repeat after me: 'The UK is going to leave the EU. I'll just have to get over it.'

But you do not have to give up. If you live in a constituency where the election result is not a foregone conclusion, you can still influence the outcome of the Brexit negotiations and therefore the likely shape of the UK's future relationship with the EU.

Suppose you're one of the 40% of voters who voted Conservative in 2015 but who also voted Remain in 2016. If you're happy with the way Mrs May is approaching Brexit, you'll probably vote Conservative again. If you're not, you may well consider switching to the Lib Dems.

There are nine seats, currently held by the Tories, where in 2015 the Lib Dem candidate was less than 5,000 votes behind. They are, in order of vulnerability: Eastbourne, Lewes, Thornbury Vale, Twickenham, Kingston and Surbiton, St Ives, Torbay, Sutton and Cheam, and Bath.

There are also 12 seats, currently held by the Tories, where in 2015 the Labour candidate was less than 1,000 votes behind. They are, again in order of vulnerability: Gower, Derby North, Croydon Central, Vale of Clwyd, Bury North, Morley and Outwood, Thurrock, Plymouth Sutton and Devonport, Brighton Kemptown, Bolton West, Weaver Vale, and Telford. (All data courtesy of Election Polling.)

My guess is that relatively few Tory voters are likely to switch to Labour under Jeremy Corbyn. (How's that for an under-statement?) Nevertheless, if you're prepared to take the long view, you may calculate that Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to survive much longer as Labour leader, that whoever comes next may well be more electorally credible, and that a stronger Labour opposition could have a significant influence on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

Tactical voting is nothing new. On 8 June, however, tactical voting will not only influence some important constituency outcomes, but also how the next government reads the mood of the electorate. So even in constituencies where the outcome is not in doubt, an increased vote for anti-Brexit parties will convey a message to Westminster.

Mrs May has gambled that with the Labour party in disarray, and the Lib Dems almost invisible to the naked eye, she will emerge on 9 June with a lovely big majority, mistress of all she surveys, and unstoppable as she molds the country into her own image.

Although I do not for one moment think that she will be defeated, I am nevertheless reminded of Edward Heath, who in February 1974 called an election to answer the question 'Who governs Britain?' and received, much to his surprise, the answer 'Not you, matey.' Prime ministers don't always get to dictate which question voters choose to answer in the privacy of the polling station.

So, bottom line: If you're pro-Remain in a marginal constituency, vote for whoever is most likely to win the seat and most closely reflects your own views, even if they do not represent your usual party choice.

If you're a pro-Remain Tory, stick to St Theresa if you think you can trust her, or switch to the Lib Dems.

And if, like me, you're in a constituency where both the Labour incumbent and the Lib Dem challenger are pro-Remain, consider yourself blessed. You're spoilt for choice. (There is, however, a strong argument for backing those pro-Remain Labour MPs who were brave enough to defy the party whip, on the grounds that we'll need as many of them as possible in the next parliament.)

A last word for pro-Remain Labour voters (two-thirds of all Labour voters) who may have been bitterly disappointed by Jeremy Corbyn: take a close look at your Labour candidate. If they make it clear that they're not a Corbynite, consider voting for them. If they're fully signed up to the Corbyn/McDonnell/Momentum project, switch to the Lib Dems, unless by doing so you risk handing the seat to the Tories.

(If you want to get involved in cross-party anti-Brexit campaigning, by the way, take a look at the More United website, or the initiative by anti-Brexit campaigner Gina Miller, who's raising money to support candidates who pledge a 'full and free vote' on the eventual Brexit deal.)

It's daft to make predictions in the current climate, so I won't. But I'll join the International Federation of Hat Eaters if Mrs May is not still prime minister on 9 June.

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