POLITICS
31/10/2019 17:36 GMT

Brexit Party Axing Of Candidates Could Actually Harm The Tories In General Election, Expert Says

Lord Hayward tells HuffPost UK ex-Labour voters would rather "die in a ditch" than vote Tory so could revert to Jeremy Corbyn, or stay at home, if they cannot back the Brexit Party.

The Brexit Party could end up harming the Tories if it refuses to stand candidates in hundreds of seats across the country, an election expert has suggested.

Nigel Farage has refused to rule out withdrawing swathes of candidates to focus on winning 20-40 Leave-leaning Labour-held seats where the Tories cannot claim victory, to ensure a pro-Brexit majority after the December 12 election.

But election expert Lord Hayward told HuffPost’s Commons People podcast this could end up harming the Tories in other areas because Brexit Party voters in other seats will either revert to Labour or stay at home if they cannot vote fo Farage’s party.

This is because Johnson has won back many of the ex-Tories who helped the Brexit Party to its European election victory in May.

A very large section of Farage’s support now comes from ex-Labour voters would rather “die in a ditch than vote Tory”, and so were unlikely to add to Johnson’s tally.

Lord Hayward told Commons People: “Boris Johnson has pulled back a large number of the Tory defectors to the Brexit/Ukip parties.

“Are they the people who are going to suddenly change the social habits of a lifetime and fill a ballot paper on it with a Tory in their droves? No.”

“He may have alienated Remainers but he’s pulled back the Brexit-inclined Tories.

“In the polls the Brexit Party is consistently at 10-14% - a very large number of those people are dyed in the wool Labour voters who are willing to vote for the Brexit Party in Wales, in the north Midlands, in the North, in the north-east.

“But they’ll die in a ditch before they vote Tory.

“So actually the absence of Brexit candidates in constituencies like Warrington South, Wrexham, Wakefield, will actually be disadvantageous to the Tory party.

“Because those people won’t cross to the Tories because there’s no Brexit Party, they’ll either vote Labour or they’ll stay at home, and I think both.”

Lord Hayward said the stereotypical Brexit Party voter was ex-Labour, white, from a post-industrial town, male and over 50. 

“Are they the people who are going to suddenly change the social habits of a lifetime and fill a ballot paper on it with a Tory in their droves? No.” 

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He also doubted that Farage would stand down candidates.

The Tory peer said: “If they want to carry weight, particularly if it’s a hung parliament, stack saying ‘we did very well in 20 seats and we got one MP’ against saying ‘well, actually we got three million votes, or two million votes’.

“Which is the stronger argument in the public domain?”

Farage earlier refused to rule out the prospect of standing down candidates, insisting his party’s position would be made clear in its election launch on Friday.

He told the PA news agency: “I’ve ruled nothing in, I’ve ruled nothing out. I am making a completely neutral comment ahead of our launch tomorrow.”

Referring to reports in the Times and Telegraph about the plan to stand aside, he said: “This is idle speculation.

“I have not spoken to anyone of any seniority in the party (about this).”