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7 November 2019

Can the Unite to Remain alliance actually help deliver a less Brexit-y parliament?

Evening Call’s summary of the day’s events.

By Jonn Elledge

With the December election drawing inexorably nearer, rather in the manner of your inevitable death, something that looks like an anti-Brexit alliance is finally starting to emerge.

The Unite to Remain campaign earlier unveiled a list of 60 seats in which the LibDems, Greens and Plaid Cymru would stand aside for each other next month. Heidi Allen, the ex-Tory, ex-Change UK, and current LibDem MP who chairs the group, suggested that this was the first such pact since 1918. “The single most important thing is that we return as many pro-Remain MPs as possible,” she added.

Ailbhe, who has all the goss on this one, reports that the LibDems are confident that this will boost the party’s prospects not just in the seats on the list but beyond, by communicating to anti-Brexit Green voters, say, that they should consider voting for the yellow team.

How much impact this will actually have remains to be seen. The Financial Times has analysed the polls and concluded that it will mainly serve to consolidate the LibDem’s position in seats they were already on course to win.

And there’s obviously a fairly big missing piece in this alliance. The Labour party are having none of it, which places a fairly tight limit on how much Unite to Remain can hope to achieve. What’s more, one of the big reasons for Labour’s unexpectedly strong performance in 2017 was that, despite the leadership’s apparent ambivalence regarding Brexit, a large chunk of the Remain voted for the party anyway.

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If that doesn’t happen this time, then the main beneficiaries of a split in the Remain vote may end up being the Tories. It’s not a nice thought that a strong vote share for the most vocally anti-Brexit parties could perversely land us with more pro-Brexit MPs. But thanks to our terrifically stupid electoral system, it’s a possibility, all the same.

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Good day for…

Sadiq Khan, who a new YouGov poll found to be cruising towards re-election in next May’s London mayoral election. The poll puts Khan on 45 per cent – slightly higher than the 44 he received in 2016 – compared to just 23 for Conservative Shaun Bailey and 13 for the third-placed candidate, the independent former Conservative Rory Stewart.

This, noted Business Insider’s Adam Bienkov, would be the worst result ever clocked up by a Conservative in a London mayoral election. Patrick’s theory that the party should have really gone for it and nominated Andrew Rosindell, the pro-Brexit MP for ultra-leave-y Romford, is looking more compelling by the day.

Bad day for…

The rest of the Labour party, which – after I listed a frankly hilarious number of Tory gaffes in yesterday’s column – it would be dishonest of me to point out has had an absolute shocker. Late last night Tom Watson announced he was leaving politics, and would be standing down as both the party’s deputy leader and as MP. This morning another one time Brownite MP Ian Austin, who quit the party in February, urged his voters to vote for Boris Johnson. (Both men, incidentally, hold seats in the key battleground of the West Midlands, although only Austin’s looks particularly marginal.)

Meanwhile, this week’s Jewish Chronicle has given up its front page to begging the British public not to make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister, on the grounds that 87 per cent of the Jewish community believe him to be an anti-semite. The Labour party has not had a good day.

Everybody’s talking about…

The Tories’ absolutely baffling campaign video in which Boris Johnson leaves Downing Street in slow motion without ever facing the camera, thus accidentally implying that the party will be campaigning on a slogan of “see the back of Boris Johnson”. I had rather a lot of questions about this video, which I wrote down here.

Everybody should be talking about…

The climate crisis which is, as ever, largely absent from our politics despite the fact it might kill a terrifying number of people within our lifetimes. A delegation from the Seychelles is currently in London trying to drum up support for more radical climate action, on the not unreasonable grounds that rising sea levels pose a significant threat to the island nation.

If you want to know what politicians can realistically do to help tackle the crisis, Hettie has written a guide to five radical environmental policies that most voters support.

Quote of the day

“What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of Nato.”

French president Emmanuel Macron speaking to the Economist about the complete lack of strategic leadership in the US-led alliance that has been the cornerstone of western security policy for 70 years. As if we didn’t have enough to worry about.


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