Anti-Brexit campaigners blast Labour and Lib Dems for ‘failing Remainers’ and handing Tories a majority

Posted On: 
9th December 2019

Pro-EU campaign groups have united to condemn Labour and the Liberal Democrats for “failing” Remain voters and handing the Tories a Commons majority.

Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson were criticised for their 'very public squabbling' on Brexit
Credit: 
PA Images

Best for Britain and the People’s Vote unveiled new seat-by-seat polling showing fewer than 41,000 peopke in 36 constituencies could deprive Boris Johnson of the keys to Number 10 by voting tactically for the party best-placed to beat the Conservatives.

But they said they have been forced into telling those who want a second Brexit referendum which party to back because Labour and the Lib Dems would not stand aside for one another in seats where the Tories are most vulnerable.

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Naomi Smith, Best for Britain CEO, said the “very public squabbling between Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson hasn’t been helpful at all” during the election campaign.

She told a press conference the decision by the Brexit Party to stand down in seats the Tories won in 2017 had boosted Mr Johnson’s chances of winning a majority.

“Our side failed to fight fire with fire," she said. "An inability of Corbyn and Swinson to work together means that Remain voters have to do their job for them."

But Ms Smith said that despite the ill-feeling between Labour and the Lib Dems, "If enough Remainers can hold their nose, we are in touching distance of getting a final say referendum”.

She also said it had been a "mistake" for the Lib Dems to pledge to scrap Brexit entirely if they won a Commons majority, rather than backing a second referendum.

The Best for Britain boss said: “I think had they done it when they were at 8% in the polls a couple of years ago that would have helped them out a lot more than doing it this autumn when they were at 20% in the polls.

“I just don’t think that was clever politicking of them at that time.”

And she took aim at Labour and Momentum activists for focusing too much on trying to unseat Mr Johnson in Uxbridge and South Ruislip instead of putting resources into more winnable constituencies.

'FLY TRAP FOR OPPOSITION ACTIVISTS'

Ms Smith said: “What’s slightly frustrating is the number of activists being shipped to that seat to do the decapitation who are taking resources away from seats that are much more marginal.

“Momentum activists and Labour activists could be probably having a more positive impact on denying Boris Johnson a majority elsewhere.”

Polling analyst Lewis Baston said Mr Johnson's seat was “a fly-trap for opposition activists”.

He added: “There’s always this temptation to decapitate the leader of the other side, and it very rarely works.”

Their new seat projection based on a survey of more than 30,000 voters has revised down the size of Mr Johnson’s majority, saying the Tories will win 344 seats at Thursday’s election.

The two groups say tactical voting in just 36 seats could reduce that to 309, leaving them the largest party but short of a majority. By contrast, pro-second referendum parties would have 322 MPs.

The biggest amount of tactical votes needed to change an individual result is 2,454 in Bolton West, and the smallest is just 82 in Dewsbury, both of which would allow Labour to beat the Conservatives.