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Pact of devils would need to be matched by pact of angels

by Hugo Dixon | 19.06.2019

Nigel Farage says he’s up for a pact with Boris Johnson if he has the “guts” to crash out of the EU. The Brexit Party leader told the Telegraph such a deal would deliver a “massive, thumping majority”.

Farage was talking about a scenario in which Johnson becomes prime minister and then wants to leave the EU on October 31. He predicts that Parliament would stop him doing that via a vote of no confidence which would, in turn, provoke an election.

In those circumstances, he said he would “of course” want to work with the Tories. “I’ll work with the devil if they’re committed to getting us a genuine Brexit.”

Our first-past-the-post voting system means that a “pact of the devils” could indeed deliver the thumping majority that Farage predicts – even if it secured far less than a majority of the public vote. In England, the anti-extreme Brexit vote could be split in three main ways – Lib Dem, Labour and Green. Conceivably, Johnson supported by Farage could storm to victory with barely a third of the vote.

Such a pact won’t be easy to stitch up. Johnson will be reluctant to agree anything with Farage, as the Tory party would split in two. Groups of MPs might defect to the Lib Dems or stand as independents. Many traditional Tory voters may switch to the Lib Dems too. Remember that 5 million Conservative voters backed Remain in the referendum.

That said, there are different types of pacts. Johnson may decide that some loose nudge, nudge, wink, wink form of non-aggression – where the Brexit Party only fields candidates against Labour MPs and Tory MPs who aren’t fully signed up to a crash-out Brexit – might just be acceptable, so long as his fingerprints aren’t all over it.

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The question then would be whether that would be good enough for Farage. Having topped the polls in the European Parliament elections, he may think he needs a bigger slice of the action – including potentially promises of a significant role for himself in a future government.

But let’s imagine that these serious difficulties can be overcome – perhaps with the help of Donald Trump, who is a friend of both men. That would leave pro-European forces facing a mega challenge.

It would not, though, be hopeless. A shift of middle ground Tory voters to the Lib Dems or potentially Greens would boost their vote. And a good majority of the population could be ranged against the Johnson-Farage pact. But some form of “pact of the angels” would still be needed to defeat the devils.

It is hard to envisage a full three-way pact between Labour, Lib Dems and Greens – where only the strongest candidate stands in each seat and the other parties support it. There is just too much tribalism in politics.But this is a time of national crisis. And political parties need to rise above tribalism. It is good that Jo Swinson, one of the two candidates to be the next leader of the Lib Dems said this week she’s open to some form of alliance. Sensible people in all three parties need to put their thinking caps on fast and see what can best be done.

Edited by Luke Lythgoe

3 Responses to “Pact of devils would need to be matched by pact of angels”

  • If the public knew or cared about Farage’s past and motivations, they would be more worried. He’s a modern master of dog whistle politics. He is a sociopath and anarchist and yet wraps himself in the union flag. Give him a hammer and he would smash everything.

  • About time someone on the remain side took note of this power squandering Remain tribalism curse. Now to get that message across to there where it hurts the meanest Brexit cowboys!

  • If this ends up with another General Election, we have to face up to the possibility of a Boris-Farage pact, which would be just about the most damaging, wreckless Government this country has ever seen. In such circumstances, the forces seeking to prevent a No Deal will have to form an electoral pact to stop them. Latest polls show a clear anti Cons-Farage majority which could achieve this, if they co-operate with one another.
    The problem is, that even amongst pro People’s Vote parties there are those who jealousy want to guard their own specific prrogrammes and are against losing their own identity. As for Labour, I think it is even less probable that pro Corbyn forces would want to join such a pact. In fact, part of me thinks Corbyn would rather have a hard Brexit, so he can be there to pick up the pieces from the mess, claiming it wasn’t Labour’s fault. The Pro Europe majority in the Labour party have to assert themselves more, so as to prevent this happening, in the national interest.