Archive for the 'Brexit Party' Category


Johnson’s first battle as PM with the BXP looks set to be at Brecon & Radnor within a week of him getting the job

Thursday, June 20th, 2019

Farage’s favourite pollster, Survation, has already been active

At 5pm today the six recall petition centres across the B&R constituency will close their doors and late tomorrow morning the sitting CON MP will learn whether or not 10% of those on the electoral roll have signed the petition demanding his recall. If the total tops the required number then the Speaker will be informed formally and a vacancy will be declared.

The petition follows the conviction of the CON MP for expenses fraud – one of the three stated factors in the recall legislation that bring one into effect.

It is expected that the by-election will take place on July 25th or a week later on August 1st. The result of the Tory leadership  election is due in the week of July 22nd so Johnson’s first by-election test be shortly afterwards.

We do know that Survation, which has carried out a lot of constituency polling in the past for Farage, has been running a survey in B&R  no doubt to test the water. The seat was broadly in line with the overall UK result at the Referendum so not as clear cut a leave seat as Peterborough.

Given BXP’s strong Westminster polling position it clearly will want to contest the seat a move that could split the Tory vote and could make the task of LDs, who have been campaigning hard for weeks, a bit easier.

But will Farage want to do something that would undermine arch-Brexiteer Boris so early on in his new job? My guess is that he’s no alternative. BXP needs to fight battles like this and do well in order to keep the momentum going.

The result of the petition is expected tomorrow. The by-election campaigning will start immediately afterwards.

Mike Smithson




Get ready for the Betrayals Ahead

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

As CON MPs prepare to vote a look at the bigger picture

There is a political divide in Britain. No, not that one. But one between those seeing Brexit as an end in itself and those for whom it is a means to an end. The former seems to comprise most of the Tory party. The candidates for leader seem to agree. “We must do Brexit” they cry. In some cases, one suspects it is said with all the sincerity of a certain type of English middle class woman on holiday in a favoured part of Europe mwah-mwah-ing the nice couple she’s met saying “Let’s do lunch!” while secretly hoping it never happens.

Brexit is seen as something which simply must be got over with so that they can move on to more familiar political territory. It’s Brexit as a painful toothache. The root canal surgery simply cannot be put off any longer. Once done life can go back to normal. You think I jest. Observe how little actual detail is being provided about how to do Brexit, let alone what happens after. It is almost as if it has to be done not because of the opportunities and improvements it will bring – and there will be some (though there is remarkably little discussion of these gains these days nor whether these will be outweighed by the opportunities lost) – but to avoid being beaten up by the Brexit Party. Brexit is a self-defence move for Tories worried about a grinning marauder opportunistically stealing their voters.

Well it may work. Still, once the Tory party has stopped treating its own survival as the country’s most important concern, it might question its comforting assumption that Leave voters will reward the Tories for doing Brexit, particularly if it’s a No Deal Brexit. Yes, I know: the polls and the Euro elections. Bear with me. How seductive a clean slate No Deal Brexit sounds: just up sticks, walk away, no backward glance, all eyes fixed on the shining horizon, the great adventures ahead. Who hasn’t sometimes dreamt of closing the door quietly on demanding families, in-laws, chores, bosses, bills, responsibilities, the endless cycle of obligations, of compromise, the feeling of being taken for granted? This sort of step can be taken, of course, if one is oblivious to those affected. Still, just do it already: that seems to be the message of the Euro elections. It is, alas, never as simple as that.

There are two issues with the No Deal Brexit now being presented as the only proper Brexit (three if one includes the idiotic belief that keeping No Deal on the table is a viable negotiating tactic when the status quo is not an option in the negotiations). First, it is not an end point but the start of a journey? Where next? What sort of architecture does Britain envisage for its relationship with the EU? Or is it simply a rehash of  Vicky’s “Very well. Alone” cartoon? What sort of economy does Britain want? Pointing at Australia or Singapore or Switzerland really isn’t an answer. What sort of role in the world, given the new chill between the US and China and Russia reverting to an unfriendlier bellicosity? And how to get from where we are now to there? Merely saying that “mojo” and “belief” and “charisma” are needed because poor Mrs May had none of these is insufficient. Personality without a plan makes for an amusing party guest not a leader.

Merely repeating WTO is not a plan. It’s not even a destination. What effect will WTO tariffs have on different sectors of Britain’s economy? On different parts of the country? What about rules of origin? Tax? Or services? Or medicines? Or security matters? Or the cross-border sharing of information, pretty much essential for any modern economy? Or peace in Northern Ireland: an issue which has rather more terminal consequences for its people than technical questions about tracking cattle over a porous border. Questions, questions everywhere. And ne’er an answer.

And so to the the second more important issue. Those who voted for Brexit did not do so because they wanted something called Brexit, whether No Deal or otherwise. They wanted what they thought (or were promised) it would – or might – bring. If the vote for Brexit was, in part, a cry of pain by those who felt that the status quo did little or nothing for them, a complaint that its costs and benefits had not been fairly shared, if it was a demand that their voice be heard, their needs met, that policy should be made for that part of the country lying outside the M25, a wish to be insulated from some of the effects of globalisation, a desire to preserve the familiar even at the cost of not being completely a la mode – and it was, how will those voting for it feel if it delivers none of those things? Or if it makes matters worse? “We gave you Brexit. It’s made things worse for you. But, hey, vote for us anyway. And Corbyn – he’ll really mess things up, you know.” It’s not an obviously winning slogan, certainly not from a party now willing to contemplate shutting down Parliament to get its way. Do No Deal Tories really think they will hold onto the votes of those facing unemployment or the loss of businesses or finding themselves as ignored as before just because they’ve delivered a Brexit which, it turns out, provides no solutions to the problems that led to it? Do they even care – beyond some platitudes about the “left behind”?

Judging by the likely candidates’ policy proposals, they mostly seem to assume that a No Deal Brexit itself will have no consequences beyond maybe some customs disruption and a few traffic jams and that some reheated Thatcherism, complete with a handbagging of those obstinate Eurocrats, will do the trick. One even had a photo of her when launching their campaign. Imagine likely successors to Blair in 2007 touting photos of Harold Wilson (a PM who had left office 31 years earlier) to see how odd this looks. At a time of pressure on councils, on schools, on those facing the heartless rigidities of Universal Credit, on graduates facing an interest rate on their loans unobtainable to any saver other than those entrusting their money to fraudsters, tax cuts for those on salaries unimaginable to many in Bridgend or Sunderland or Port Talbot is, apparently, the solution. Money set aside to mitigate the effects of No Deal is to be spent on the haves, the have-nots presumably being expected to be grateful for having got Brexit.

No Deal Brexit may now indeed be inevitable, however unprepared the country is. It is being presented – now – as the only possible fulfilment of the referendum’s mandate. It is in reality the result of a failure of negotiation, a failure to realise that compromise is necessary, a failure to realise that how Brexit was implemented would send a strong signal to the rest of the world about how Britain would meet this challenge. Whatever blame can be attached to the EU for such a failure, it is Britain which, having failed its first test – leaving on reasonable, orderly terms – will need to strike new deals, work out a new strategy, persuade investors of its worth and reliability.

No Deal Brexit will have costs – as all such unilateral steps do. And those costs may not be borne fairly or by those most fervently advocating it, a point studiously ignored by those politicians pushing it the hardest. In their desire to get it off their backs, the Tories have forgotten what mischiefs Brexit was intended to remedy and seem oblivious to the fact that the world has changed from a time when tax cuts and labelling Labour as dangerous was all it took to win. They do not seem to know whether Brexit is a chance for Britain to retreat to a more comfortable, quasi-protectionist niche (see the rush to warn the US off the NHS), even at the cost of falling behind. Or is it a chance to become globally adventurous, opening itself up to all sorts of new markets, turning itself into a low tax, low regulation, low welfare state country. Perhaps their confusion is understandable: some Brexiteers want the former, others the latter. Yet others want all the benefits of globalisation and the EU with none of the obligations.  Some just want fewer foreigners.  Someone will end up disappointed.

The Tories are gambling that ticking Brexit off the To Do list will be enough and that voters will have short memories. It is an insouciant, not to say reckless, approach. Of course, the country will adapt. Eventually. But there will be costs. These may be significant. Who they fall on and who bears them will be the central question of British politics post-Brexit, whatever choices are made. What those choices should be is something the Tories seem remarkably unwilling or unable to address. In trying to deal with one charge of betrayal, the Tories are simply ensuring there will be many more betrayal narratives in the future.



The Peterborough Chronicle. About that by-election

Friday, June 7th, 2019

What to make of the result? There are lots of hot takes all over the internet.  So here’s a tepid take, with an assortment of observations all jumbled up in a heap.  Make of them what you will.

1) No one really had a handle on what was going on

The Brexit party got backed below 1.2 on Betfair to win the by-election.  They were heavy odds-on favourites, largely it seems off the back of their results in the EU elections. It’s all very well saying that their backers were far too enthusiastic but layers weren’t exactly all that much in evidence either. It turns out nobody knew anything. Remember that when reading all those hot takes. Remember it next time you’re betting too.

2) Especially not Nigel Farage

Nigel Farage turned up triumphantly for the count, only to slip out of a side door once it became apparent that his party had lost. That minor humiliation can be brushed off, but much more concerning for the Brexit party is that they did not have a handle on their own support. The Brexit party’s ground game needs a lot of work.

This is unsurprising for a new party. We saw this at the Newark by-election in 2014, where UKIP transparently had no idea where their voters were. In a first-past-the-post system, knowing who your voters are and getting them out is important.

3) Leave secured 60.9% of the vote in Peterborough in 2016 and only 51% of the vote in Peterborough in 2019

Hat tip to Matthew Goodwin for pointing this out, as linked to above. This implies a 10% swing from Leave to Remain if taken on a naive basis, implying a 58:42 Remain lead nationally at present. That is ahead of most current opinion polls, which show a smaller Remain lead.

Remain optimists will take this at face value and see this as evidence that Britain is turning its back on Brexit.  Leave optimists will argue that this reflects Labour’s superior ground game and the silent majority of voters break heavily in their favour. Or perhaps it is somewhere in the middle. Pick your preference.

4) Leave secured 60.9% of the vote in Peterborough in 2016 and the Brexit party secured 28.9% in 2019

That implies the Brexit party are tallying just under half of the Leave vote, which in turn implies that they are getting somewhere around the 24-25% mark nationally. However, in the special circumstances of a by-election, you would expect a party with momentum to do rather better than their actual polling as voters choose to send a message.  I’d knock quite a few percent off that notional national polling, given that.

5) But Peterborough was not, even though a strongly Leave-voting seat, particularly promising ground for the Brexit party

The excellent analysis by Chaminda Jayanetti linked to above shows that while the Brexit party did well among Leave voters across the country in the EU elections, it did less well in urban, ethnically diverse places and best in southern English suburbs and market towns. It is a party that appeals most of all to affluent reactionaries. They are not particularly in evidence in Peterborough.

The Brexit party are doing well, but their supporters are getting ahead of themselves. Success is performance minus anticipation. On that basis, this was a poor result for the Brexit party. They need to work on both halves of that equation.

6) It was a terrible night for the Conservatives

They have been eclipsed among Leave voters by the Brexit party. The chief mystery is who is voting for them at present. What is it that they have to offer to anyone? Don’t tweet me, please.

7) This was a really good result for Labour

The circumstances of the by-election were sub-optimal, to put it mildly. The previous MP had been ousted after being convicted of a serious criminal offence.  Their new candidate ran into trouble. They faced an opponent with their tails up after success in the EU elections. But they won.

Jeremy Corbyn’s supporters are crowing and they are right to do so. Yes, their vote share dropped but they increased their majority. It’s about relative performance not absolute performance and this by-election suggests that in some seats at least they are well-placed to benefit from a more fragmented electorate.

8) Reported candidate quality was once again an inverse predictor of success at the by-election

Lisa Forbes, the Labour candidate had odium poured on her for some unsavoury online activity and she had to agree to deepen her understanding of anti-Semitism. The Brexit party candidate received widespread acclaim as a local businessman made good. The Conservative candidate also got good reviews.

It seems that when parties stress the quality of the candidate they are often masking other weaknesses in their offering that are more important to the electorate. That’s something to remember in the future next time a party boasts of their excellent by-election candidate.

Alastair Meeks


Remembering the time Boris Johnson implied Tory defectors to Farage’s party are the kind of people who have sex with vacuum cleaners

Sunday, May 26th, 2019

If as anticipated the Brexit party wins the European elections well ahead of the Conservatives then I expect the discussion will move towards who will be best placed to win the support of the Brexit Party’s voters and many will say Boris Johnson but that will be a mistake, here’s why.

Nigel Farage would ruthlessly exploit the past comments of Boris, for example the pre referendum comments by Boris Johnson about ‘support[ing] a second referendum on Britain’s relationship with the EU even if the UK voted to leave.’

Then there’s Boris Johnson’s support for an amnesty for illegal immigrants which someone like Nigel Farage and his vast history of inflammatory rhetoric on immigration would ruthlessly exploit to portray Boris Johnson as another member of the liberal metropolitan elite.

Then there’s the comments in the video atop this thread about switchers to UKIP are the kind of people who have sex with vacuum cleaners. Whether fair or unfair that these defectors to Farage’s party are the sort of people who have sex with vacuum cleaners it has the potential to cause grief in the way David Cameron’s prescient comment about UKIP members being “a bunch of fruitcakes and loonies and closet racists” did.

In mitigation of Boris Johnson when he made these comments it was days after Mark Reckless defected from the Conservatives to UKIP at the start of the 2014 Conservative party conference.

Many Conservatives were very angry at Reckless, the normally mild mannered David Cameron said some very uncomplimentary things about Mark Reckless, another Tory MP said Mark Reckless is ‘a f**king c**t who deserves a hot poker up his arse’, my own views on the treachery of Mark Reckless were unfit to publish on a family friendly website like politicalbetting.

But the argument about Boris Johnson as Conservative leader being the panacea to getting back Conservative to Brexit party switchers doesn’t survive slight scrutiny, Nigel Farage will ensure that, Boris Johnson’s past gives Farage so much material.



The big picture from the turnout figures so far annouced is that the more an area was for Remain the more people voted yesterday

Friday, May 24th, 2019

Although there has been no exit or other polling there has been a mass of data from the local authority areas that began verifying the ballots overnight.

The big picture so far is in the headline – there’s a correlation between the percentage of those who voted yesterday and what the area did at the referendum. So far it seems that the more for Leave places were the lower turnout levels there were yesterdsy.

Now we should be careful rushing to judgment here because all we have is data from a relatively small number of council area and, of course, what happened in the referendum. But if a significantly higher proportion of people voted in Remain area that does suggest that the Greens and LDs might be doing well.

There has been no information from London yet – the ballot verifications are taking place in the morning – but I’m increasingly confident that my 7/2 bets on the LDs winning the vote in the capital might be a winner.

The Tweet above is from Ashfield – a strong leave area where the turnout was low in comparison to, say, the 47% in the strong remain city of St Albans.

Mike Smithson


Frustratingly there’ll be no results or even on the day polls until Sunday at 10pm

Thursday, May 23rd, 2019

Those used to general elections in the UK and the drama of the exit poll coming out they might get a bit deflated to have reached 10 this evening to find the polls have closed and nothing is happening.

We will have to wait until 10 p.m. on Sunday evening for the first results to come out. This is because of the strict rules about EU elections that no information on voting can be revealed until such time as as until voting in all countries is over.

There’s obviously a lot of anecdotal evidence of what’s been happening today and we could get some harder data about turnout trends from the verification process that is taking this evening of all the ballot papers that were cast. This procedure is monitored by party observers and information can come out.

If turnout is not as high as some had been predicting then which parties will be the beneficiaries and which the losers? My current view, an this might be overtaken by events, is that BRX will benefit most from a highish turnout.

Please share any info you have on the thread below.

Mike Smithson


Food for thought for would-be defectors to the Brexit Party

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

Mike Greene, the Brexit Party candidate for the Peterborough by-election, reportedly met Nigel Farage for the first time the night before he was unveiled as the new party’s representative. You have to hope that he does better due diligence on the companies he invests in.

For Nigel Farage is not the easiest man to work for.He has a very long-established habit of falling out with those around him. His history of leading UKIP was one of nonstop rows with senior colleagues. The body count rivalled that of Game Of Thrones.

Let’s have a look at what some of them had to say.

Douglas Carswell was a high profile MP defector from the Conservatives who became disillusioned: “Far from having a strategy, we seemed to be driven by whatever came out of Nigel’s mouth.”

Mike Nattrass was a UKIP MEP. After he left, he claimed:

“Ukip is now a totalitarian party. Nigel Farage only wants people in the party who absolutely and totally agree with him. I’m regarded as a troublemaker. The party has done very well. We all do a lot of work but it now has a totalitarian regime because the leader only wants people elected who are his cronies.”

David Campbell-Bannerman was also a UKIP MEP. His view, after defecting to the Conservatives was:

“What is concerning about UKIP is it has become very much a one-man band and a bit of a cult. There is a followership and even the constitution has been changed to favour pro-leader candidates. I don’t think that’s healthy.”

Maria Andreasen was a UKIP MEP (a former chief accountant for the European Commission before that, as it happens). Her view after leaving wasit was Mr Farage’s jealousy of potential competitors inside the “one-man band” party that had prevented candidates from having their records checked.

She said Mr Farage changed the party’s constitution last year “giving him full power on everything, including the establishment of strategy, policies and selection processes for candidates for elections”.

Godfrey Bloom, also a former UKIP MEP and one-time flatmate of Nigel Farage noted that  “even a hint of criticism” would risk getting “your membership card chopped up”.

You might notice something of a theme in these criticisms.

There have been darker suggestions. Nikki Sinclaire was a former UKIP MEP, she claimed that he put a fist in her face. She also helpfully provided some statistical analysis for those doing due diligence:

“Nigel Farage has been an MEP for 15 years; in that time there has been 19 other UKIP MEPs and he has fallen out with 11. In this Parliament in the last five years, the 12 MEPs he brought back to Brussels, he has fallen out with six.”

Nigel Farage has his own views on this. Of Ms Andreasen, he said: “The woman is impossible.” Douglas Carswell was “sniping from the sidelines”. He is no more flattering about his other former disillusioned colleagues.

Nevertheless, anyone thinking of teaming up with Nigel Farage should be aware that the chances of falling out with him are substantial. And given he had a reputation as an autocrat when he was in charge of UKIP, the structure of the Brexit Party should give any would-be ally pause for thought. For it is not a party, but a company controlled by Nigel Farage. He appoints the board. There are no members. Those registered supporters are the fools who are easily parted from their money – they get nothing for it.  

Nigel Farage is leader for life and he can do as he pleases. If you join the Brexit Party and you then fall out with Nigel Farage, you will lose.  

So, those hardline Conservative MPs beguiled by the Brexit Party’s rise in the polls need to do some careful thinking. Do they stick, unhappily, with the Conservative party (which they may well believe is a sinking ship) or do they defect to a new home where they will have no power and no real influence, where they will serve as a trophy rather than a colleague? To defect is to subordinate yourself to Nigel Farage forever. That is the tariff of admission.

The choice is not a particularly easy one, especially if you believe that the Conservative party is now incapable of delivering the Brexit you want. But anyone who defects to the Brexit Party only to discover that they end up as the next of Nigel Farage’s victims deserves no sympathy for their fate: the implications of the choice are there for all to see right now.

Alastair Meeks


The CON-LAB polling misery continues

Monday, May 13th, 2019

New London poll finds BRX/LD/GRN rising while the big two slump

We are now getting to the stage ahead of the Euro elections next week when voters start to think about what they will do. These, as have been remarked upon many times, have historically been a strange set of elections with normal allegiances apparently going to the wind

The YouGov London poll, carried out for QMUL, is extra interesting because, clearly, London is the most remain part of the UK. Even so Farage’s Brexit party is doing well and appears to be eating into both the Conservatives and Labour shares.

The Lib Dem numbers look very encouraging for Vince Cable in what will be his final set of elections as LD party leader. I would expect over the next few days that they will be putting a big squeeze on the other anti-brexit parties supporters as well as remain backers who are CON and LAB. This is an area where the party has good expertise. A particular target will be the Green vote.

I’ve had a couple of Euro bets this lunchtime with Ladbrokes. One, at 7/2 is that the Lib Dems will finish up with the most number of votes in the London. The other at 2/1 is that the turnout will be in the 30% to 40% range.

A big unknown at the moment it’s whether or not the government can turn things around at Westminster and get some sort of agreement from MPs. The problem for strong leavers is that their opposition to Theresa May’s deal may put in jeopardy the whole idea of leaving the EU. What we’re witnessing is a gigantic game of chicken.

Mike Smithson