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So. What would the Brexit Party Actually Need to do to Win a General Election?
The Brexit Party’s core vote and primary target voters are those 17.4 million people who voted to Leave the EU in 2016. At least thats what I think is a really helpful way to think about it. You will start to see why shortly I hope but essentially, these are broadly the people most likely to vote for the Brexit Party.
Let’s look at a timeline from the Brexit Party Launch, up until the Peterborough ByElection and try and figure out what proportion of those voters voted for the Brexit Party and therefore roughly where they are at now.
The Brexit Party launched on 12 April. They didn’t field any candidates in the local elections so we can’t see what proportion of Voters voted for them but we can see that the Conservatives and Labour lost in equal proportion with a 7% swing away from them compared to the local elections in 2018.
So that was before the PM announced her Chequers proposal and we all started to realise she had no intention of delivering anything remotely like Brexit.. The Lib Dems, the Greens and lots of independents all increased their share of the vote as a consequence.
This result was a direct response to the failure of the Government to Leave the EU on the 29th March, as Theresa May had promised over 100 times, and then the subsequent failure again to leave on April 12th.
In the EU Parliamentary elections the Brexit Party got five and a quarter million votes which equates to just over 30% of those 17.4 million who for voted to Leave.
Then the Prime Minister resigned on the 24th May. (clapping). Stop Signal.
And then a couple of weeks later The Brexit Party candidate in Peterborough, Mike Greene, got 9,801 votes and very nearly won the seat. Which equates to roughly 30.26% of Leave Voters who voted for him. Turnout at a General Election would typically have been higher – so it might realistically have been over 40% of Leave voters in that scenario.
It makes you wonder. If the PM hadn’t pre-announced her resignation before that vote I think Mike Greene probably would have won. To say nothing of the alleged vote rigging in the election.
At this point, Its worth bearing in mind that the reason that the Brexit Party, only a few weeks old, was able to come within a whisker of winning in Peterborough is not just because they had a great candidate and a solid campaign on the ground but it’s also partly because:
- It was a strong leave voting seat. 63% of Voters voted to Leave in Peterborough in 2016.
- The constituency was a marginal constituency. In 2017 Labour won roughly 48% of the vote and the Conservatives won 47%.
Its much more difficult to win in seats where another party has a far larger proportion of the vote. But when the vote is split there is the opportunity for the Brexit Party to come through the middle and win.
Now. The next question is. What proportion of the Brexit Party’s core and primary target voters would they have to get to vote for them in a General Election.
Well. I have a database that stores data on every Parliamentary constituency in the country and allows me to throw all kinds of scenarios at it and get results back.
Using that database, I have taken the results of the 2017 General Election and I have looked at a very simple scenario for the next GE.
I have assumed that the results are the same as the 2017 General Election except that the Brexit Party win votes from the other parties in direct proportion to those other party’s share of the vote in each constituency in 2017.
So this is a very simplistic scenario. It’s not going to give us an accurate prediction of what would happen but it will give a sense of the dynamics at play.
Here’s an example constituency. It was a strongly Leave voting seat in 2016 and had a very strong Labour majority in 2017. This constituency is Yvette Cooper’s Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford constituency in the North of England.
So let’s see what happens here. There’s the 2017 results.
And we are going to assume that 45% of Leave voters in the constituency come out for the Brexit Party.
So this is the result. The Brexit Party win a strong Labour voting seat with a small majority of 37 votes.
But now you can probably see the limitations of the simple assumption that this is based on. As things stand currently, the Lib Dems vote would probably in reality increase considerably and the UKIP vote would decline much more. There are lots of variables and they are constantly shifting as political parties re-position for advantage.
So again, this model really just illustrates the dynamics at play and starts to give you a mental model so you can get a better grasp on the whole thing. And the more you tweak the assumptions the more accurate your predictions are likely to get.
For the sake of completeness let’s look at how the results work out when we look at the impact in every one of the 650 constituencies across the country.
If 40% of the Leave Vote were to come out and vote for Brexit Party they win 8 seats in Parliament.
at 50% they win 79 seats – now depending on the shares of the vote across the other parties this could mean they realistically hold the balance of power in a coalition or in the kind of arrangement that that Democratic Unionists are in with the Conservatives currently – that would be a win.
As we get above 60% The Brexit Party are getting close to winning a majority.
At 64% they have a majority of 1 seat – there are 650 seats in Parliament so 326 is a majority.
And at 65% they a majority of 44 – which is a realistic working majority – enough to govern effectively.
From beyond that point the majority gets bigger (pause) and bigger (pause) and bigger..
What happens if, seeing this challenge approaching, the Lib Dems and Labour form an alliance, an electoral pact or even merge with a pledge to Remain in the EU?
How could the Brexit Party win then?
What happens if the Conservatives Deliver Brexit before a GE?
How can the Brexit Party win the next GE after that?
And another Question. Can the Conservatives actually deliver a full Clean Brexit anyway – and are they even proposing to do so?
Those questions and more are the subjects of future videos.