Follow these 10 rules to make your pro-European vote count

by Hugo Dixon | 22.05.2017

Despite her chaotic “dementia tax”, Theresa May is on track to win big. That would allow her to push through Brexit at any cost – even driving us over a cliff without a deal. How can voters who want to stop this make their votes count?

The top goal is to get as pro-European a House of Commons as possible. When that’s not possible, it’s still important to maximise the votes of pro-European parties. The more votes they get, the more authority they will have to oppose May’s Brexit plans.

With these aims in mind, InFacts has devised 10 rules on how to vote. We have also produced a voting machine that applies these rules to all seats in England and Wales. Where you live determines how you should vote.

How should you vote?

1. Back all sitting Lib Dem or Green MPs

Parties matter. All other things being equal, a Liberal Democrat or Green is better than a Labour MP who, in turn, is better than a Tory.

2. Back Lib Dems or Greens in Tory seats they can win

The Lib Dems may win some Tory seats since they were routed in the 2015 election. We include, optimistically, any constituencies they won in 2010 or where they were within 25 percentage points of winning in the last election – plus St Albans, where the sitting Tory Brexiter is so out of step with her constituents that the Lib Dems might win. There’s also one Tory seat where the Greens have a shot – the Isle of Wight.

3. Back whitelisted Labour MPs, unless vulnerable to Lib Dem or Green

Individuals matters as well as parties. We have drawn up a white list of 64 pro-European Labour MPs who have been actively working against a destructive Brexit since the referendum – especially those who voted against triggering Article 50. Pro-Europeans should back them, except in those cases, such as Cambridge and Bristol West, where they are vulnerable to a Lib Dem or Green challenge but not to a pro-Brexit party. In those cases, we’re neutral.

4. Back greylisted Labour MPs vulnerable to Tories

We’ve drawn up a grey list – covering all other Labour MPs who were pro-Remain in the referendum. They have gone along with Jeremy Corbyn’s weak Brexit policy. But we don’t want these to lose out to a Tory. Ukip’s collapse makes some of these MPs especially vulnerable. We’ve assumed as a rule of thumb that half Ukip’s vote in 2015 goes to the Tories. We’ve then defined as vulnerable any MP who had less than a 15 percentage point majority over the Tory candidate in the 2015 election.

However, when a greylisted Labour MP is being chased by a Lib Dem, we think it’s better to back the Lib Dem.

5.Vote against blacklisted Labour MPs

We have also drawn up a blacklist of 9 pro-Brexit Labour MPs. Only one, Kate Hoey, is vulnerable. Here, we recommend backing Lib Dem George Turner, the challenger with the best chance of winning.

6. Back whitelisted Tories

Most Tories who voted Remain in the referendum have fallen into line with May’s policies. But a few have had the guts to speak up against May’s destructive Brexit. We have drawn up a white list of 17 candidates. We recommend backing all these Tories except in three cases – Bath, Cheltenham and Twickenham – where a Lib Dem might beat them.

We also think pro-Europeans should back the Tories in Boston and Skegness, and Clacton. Although neither is on the whitelist, these are special situations. The candidates voted Remain and are vulnerable to Ukip  which, in Boston and Skegness, is fielding its leader Paul Nuttall.

7. Vote against blacklisted Tories

All other Tories, including others who voted Remain in the referendum, are blacklisted. The question of who to back depends on which party – if any – has a chance of beating these MPs.

8. Vote for pro-European Labour candidates if they can beat blacklisted Tories

We think, optimistically, that Labour has a chance if it was within 10 percentage points of the Tories at the last election – or if it was within 15 points and was a Remain constituency at the referendum – or if it was in second place in 2015 and the combined votes of Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens were more than the Tories.

9. Back Plaid when they are defending seats or can beat a less pro-European candidate

Plaid Cymru wants Wales to stay in the single market, so its Brexit policy is better than Labour’s. But it is against a referendum on the final Brexit deal, so its policy isn’t as pro-European as either the Lib Dems’ or Greens’. It makes sense to back Plaid in the seats it is defending against the Tories or Labour – as well as Ynys Môn, which it hopes to win from Labour.

10. In all other situations, vote Lib Dems or Green

When there’s no chance of making the House of Commons more pro-European – normally because the seat is a safe Tory or Labour one – it’s still important to maximise the votes for pro-European parties. In these cases, pro-Europeans don’t have to worry about letting a Tory Brexiter in or missing the opportunity to unseat one. We therefore recommend voting for a genuinely pro-European party – either the Lib Dems or Greens. We are neutral between them.

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    Our voting machine applies these 10 principles to all the 573 constituencies in England and Wales. It recommends Labour in 174 seats, the Lib Dems in 109, the Conservatives in 16, Plaid in 4 and the Greens in 3. In the remaining cases, the guide is neutral – almost always between the Greens and the Lib Dems.

    The  recommendations may be updated closer to the election as more information about candidates’ views and the winnability of seats becomes available.

    This article was updated on May 26. The definition of which Tory seats were vulnerable to Labour was changed. The principle of neutrality in respect of “grey listed” Tories was removed.

    This article was further updated on May 31. The definition of which Tory seats were vulnerable to Labour was further changed.


    Edited by Luke Lythgoe

    6 Responses to “Follow these 10 rules to make your pro-European vote count”

    • This is an excellent piece of work and I do hope all Remainers take note and follow the advice on this site. I realise the accepted wisdom is that many Remainers have reconciled themselves to Brexit – but all Remain voters need to stop and think why they voted to Remain in the first place. Nothing has happened which should change their minds and if anything the prospects of Brexit are becoming ever more disastrous.

      I undertook my own piece of research which generally aligns with yours and with that of the http://www.bestforbritain.org site – however I would add my own caveats and concerns.

      Firstly I can’t quite understand why neither site does not back the SNP in Scotland. Your site at last as far as reports in the New European states seems to think that the Nationalist dimension complicates matters so much that no recommendation can be made. Leaving aside whether or not there is a second independence vote, it ought to be clear from the SNP stance on Europe that all SNP seats must be supported.

      My own research also suggests that the SNP should be supported in one Scottish Tory seat (DUMFRIESSHIRE, CLYDESDALE AND TWEEDDALE) and in one Scottish Labour seat (EDINBURGH SOUTH).

      Turning to English and Welsh seats. I don’t really agree with your view that Remainers in BATTERSEA can vote for either Green or Lib Dems as it would only need a swing of 7.79% from Tory to Labour for that party to win. My view also aligns with the BestforBritain view. I concede it would probably need a swing against the national trend, but in a seat which voted 77% to Remain I think the anti-Tory vote must vote tactically and not be dispersed.

      For similar reasons I would personally favour backing Labour rather than Tory as you state, in the two Tory seats of SOUTH CAMBRIDGESHIRE and STROUD. The former voted 61.6% to Remain and only needs a swing of 2.54% from Tory to Labour while the latter seat voted 54.6% to Remain and would need a swing of 4.78% from Conservative to Labour.

      Finally I am pleased your site supports Plaid Cymru in YNYS MON where a swing of 0.34% from Labour to Plaid Cymru would result in a Plaid win. This in contrast to the BestforBritain view, mistaken in my opinion, that Remainers should vote Labour.

    • Thanks for publishing my views. I should have added the following statistics to my original post.

      The Labour seat of Edinburgh South voted 77.8% for Remain last June and a swing of 2.69% from Labour to SNP would give SNP a further seat, which could be important if the Tories do make gains in Scotland. Moreover, the Tory seat of Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale and Tweeddale voted 56.1% Remain and a swing of just 0.78% from Tory to SNP would take the seat for the SNP. That’s not to say Tories have to change their votes, although Remain Tories hopefully will do so. But in the case of the Dumfriesshire seat, just one in three Lib Dems need to vote tactically to remove another Tory MP.

      Although Labour-voting Ynys Mon voted Leave by a slim majority (49.1% Remain) and despite it being a three-way fight between the main contenders for this seat (Labour, Plaid and the Tories), it would only take the 2.15% of voters who voted Lib Dem in 2015 to switch to Plaid for that party to win. Tactical voting by the Lib Dems and other Remainers would secure a win for Plaid even if all UKIP voters moved to the Tories.

      Clearly many Scottish and Welsh seats are often complex three-way if not four-way fights. No doubt your more sophisticated analysis (and the BestforBritain analysis too) has taken into account the various swings between each party, which mine does not. Nonetheless I think my simpler analysis still holds water with these two Scottish seats and one Welsh seat.

      The message needs to get across that with various UKIP sympathetic millionaires funding and plotting to oust pro Remain MPs by urging tactical voting for Leave candidates, we must use their tactics against them. As your site implies, we need to set aside party loyalties where these loyalties will prevent a Remain win. Voting wisely is critical and every true Remainer’s duty in order to prevent the biggest catastrophe facing peace-time Britain.

    • I live in Macclesfield which was 53% Tory last time with Labour 23%, Green 5%, Libdem 8% and UKIP 12%. Your website suggests to vote Libdem or Green.

      I agree with Gina Miller’s website to vote Labour https://bestforbritain.org/
      The Labour candidate supports the EU.

      I ‘ve read your reasoning but I don’t see the sense in your website splitting the vote away from Labour at this moment of potential. It’s a first past the post system so really the only thing that counts is who wins and I’d like to give Labour the best chance in this instance in my constituency of beating the Tories.

      Although I would support Libdem or Green their smaller shared minority vote won’t give them a voice in parliament. Maybe in the next election their numbers might be useful to decide which way to vote but right now the numbers favour Labour as best party to beat the Tories. Alas however, it’s such a strong Tory seat I think the point is an academic one.

      At least we are all to a common cause. Let’s hope the parliamentary balance shifts to a more open minded collective view.

      Whoever wins is going to be faced with presenting a bad deal to the public which will make us all poorer. When that happens we need MPs with an open mind prepared as democratic representatives to act in our best interests and think again.


    • Well done to this site, the https://bestforbritain.org/ site, to all the young voters who turned out in their droves and finally to everyone who voted tactically. I know many politicians deny any tactical voting took place. I for one voted Labour even though I am a card carrying LibDem in a no-hope seat for them.

      Shame Scots voters deserted the SNP, otherwise we would not have a minority Conservative government now. Indeed shame on those SNP voters who voted Remain and who let the Indy2 issue turn them away. Brexit is the immediate issue, not independence!! Duh!!

      We need to hold strong and fight Brexit in every legal way we can. For me any kind of Brexit is not acceptable, but realistically remaining in the EEA/Customs Union is better than the right wing’s hard Brexit. Now let’s get May out and stop – or soften – this disastrous Brexit.

      Bye bye UKIP. Don’t come back, you’re not welcome here.