Did UK elect the best Parliament to fight hard Brexit?

by Luke Lythgoe | 16.06.2017

This article was corrected after publication to recognise that 24, rather than 16, of the Labour challengers InFacts backed against Tories won their seats.

During the election campaign, InFacts produced a list of voting recommendations to help pro-Europeans fight a destructive Brexit. The aim was to build a parliament as strongly opposed as possible to May’s hard Brexit, and to prevent a Tory landslide.

Any election result is the product of many interlinking factors. We’re not saying: “It’s InFacts wot won it.” However, analysis by the FT has shown that voter concerns about Brexit were behind some of the more dramatic results, particularly in Remain-voting Tory seats. 

InFacts recommended candidates in 307 of the 573 seats in England and Wales. They included both incumbents and challengers. After an unpredictable night, 172 of those candidates are now in Parliament.  

Below is a breakdown of how our recommendations fared for each party.

Chart showing InFacts recommendations

‘Safe’ seats

In the other 266 seats we were neutral between the most pro-European candidates; either because they were safe seats for Labour or the Tories, or – as in seven seats – because the battle was between strongly pro-European candidates with no threat from the Tories. 

We were twice proven wrong in our assumption of “safe” seats: Battersea and Kensington were both gained by Labour from the Tories.

Liberal Democrats 

The biggest blow for pro-Europeans on election night was the failure of the Lib Dems. Along with the Greens, they had the strongest anti-Brexit policies by advocating a second referendum.

InFacts endorsed 106 Lib Dem candidates, including the eight sitting Lib Dem MPs for England and Wales. In hindsight, this looks incredibly optimistic. But it’s easy to forget that when Theresa May called her snap election the Lib Dems enthusiastically declared themselves the party of the 48% of Remainers, and there was much talk of a Lib Dem surge.

Of the 98 Lib Dem challengers we backed, five beat the Tory incumbent:

  • Ed Davey (Kingston and Surbiton)
  • Layla Moran (Oxford West and Abingdon)
  • Stephen Lloyd (Eastbourne – the only Leave-voting constituency in this list)
  • Vince Cable (Twickenham)
  • Wera Hobhouse (Bath)

In Portsmouth South, where we’d back the Lib Dems, the Labour candidate ousted the Tories. 

It was a disappointing night for the eight incumbent Lib Dem MPs. Only three kept their seats, with the other five losing to other parties.

  • Greg Mulholland (Leeds North West) – to Labour
  • Mark Williams (Ceredigion) – to Plaid Cymru
  • Nick Clegg (Sheffield Hallam) – to Labour
  • Sarah Olney (Richmond Park) – to Conservatives
  • Sue McGuire, a new candidate for the election (Southport) – to Conservatives

Final score: 106 backed, 8 won


InFacts only backed three Green candidates. The electoral maths made it unlikely they could win anywhere else. On the night, only their co-leader Caroline Lucas prevailed, holding on to Brighton Pavilion.

Final score: backed 3, won 1


InFacts backed 178 Labour candidates. This included 127 sitting MPs, either because they had a strong track record of speaking out against Jeremy Corbyn’s weak Brexit policy, or because they were Remain voters vulnerable to the Tories. Several fitted into both categories.

Of these, five lost their seats to Tories on the night:

  • Alan Meale (Mansfield)
  • David Winnick (Walsall North)
  • Natascha Engel (North East Derbyshire)
  • Robert Flello (Stoke-on-Trent South)
  • Tracy Harvey (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland)

We also backed 51 Labour candidates challenging a sitting Tory MP, 24 of whom won. In light of the Conservatives’ dominant early polls, we set the bar quite low for the likelihood of Labour challengers winning. But on election night, a full 28 Labour candidates defeated Tories – something few besides YouGov were expecting.

Final score: backed 178, won 146 (with a further four we didn’t back beating Tories)

Plaid Cymru

InFacts endorsed four Plaid candidates: three sitting MPs and one challenger to Labour in Ynys Mon. On election night, they kept their seats and picked up one extra – the Lib Dem seat of Ceredigion. 

Final score: backed 4, won 3 (but also beat a Lib Dem)


Finally, InFacts also backed 13 of the most pro-European Tories who had spoken out against Brexit since the referendum. This was on the basis that if May had won a majority, voices inside her party would have been more influential than any in the opposition parties. 

We also backed two Tories whose main rival was Ukip.

Of those 15 Tories, one was defeated by Labour (Neil Carmichael in Stroud) and one won Douglas Carswell’s former seat in Clacton.

Final score: backed 15, won 14

InFacts also backed independent candidate Claire Wright in East Devon who did not win.

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Edited by Paul Taylor

One Response to “Did UK elect the best Parliament to fight hard Brexit?”

  • Sorry, folks, but where you scored 53% on your suggestions, the VfE list scored 69%, and we only recommended one Tory (Ken Clarke).

    Our aims are stated on the website page. Slightly different from yours, as we understood that there was no chance of electing only Remainer candidates, due to Labour’s position, so we aimed for a hung Parliament. Not as good as we wanted, but not bad, either. Feathers are flying.