The Conservatives lead the polls as the UK is heading towards elections on December 12.
A Britain Elects poll published on Tuesday favours the Leave camp of the voting spectrum: Conservatives poll at 35,1% and the Brexit party at 11,3%. A YouGov poll published on Sunday puts Boris Johnson in the lead with 37%.
Labour stands second with 25.4% in the Britain Elects poll and 22% at the YouGov poll. The Liberals, who want to revoke Article 50 poll fare between 18,1% and 19%. In the Britain Elects poll, the Green Party also stands to gain a 4% share of the vote. The political fragmentation of the Remain camp is clearly more fractured.
However, in the British first-past-the-post system the geographic spread of the vote matters as much as the percentage. Johnson’s electoral bet is founded on the assumption the Conservatives can win seats from Labour in the North, campaigning against Labour and the Brexit party at the same time.
Furthermore, Johnson is likely to lose seats in the largely Remain Scotland, particularly since the resignation of Ruth Davidson from the leadership of the Scottish Conservatives, largely because she did not look eye-to-eye with the prime minister over Brexit policy. Boris Johnson needs to defend 13 seats there while hoping to advance elsewhere.
That is a tall order. Johnson heads to the elections having readmitted 10 out of 21 Conservative MPs that were expelled from the party when they refused to support the prospect of a no-deal Brexit. This means he will have a more controlled message over Brexit. But he will be continually reminded that he did not deliver Brexit on October 31.
Among other things, this means that 50p coins minted to celebrate the occasion will be melted down. Friday was meant to be the first day of the UK outside the EU. The UK Treasury confirmed it will recycle the coins, although a coin will be minted to mark Brexit, whenever that happens. The coin will carry the words “Friendship with all nations” and will be stamped with the new Brexit date, whenever that is.
The position of Labour is not enviable either. He has seen a very small number of MPs defecting to the more purist-Remainers Remainers. About 20 of his Labour MPs have campaigned for a soft-Brexit deal and were even willing to back Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement, in principle.
Isolated from the rest of the opposition, the Labour party moved on Tuesday to support a December 12 election date. The attempt to widen suffrage to include 16-year-olds and EU citizens failed. This could have been a game-changer, as the Conservatives are not likely to do particularly well in these demographic groups. Now the Labour Party must hold its ground despite the polls.
Therefore, the UK will be in full campaign mode as London hosts a NATO summit on December 3-4. This is the first time the British go to the polls in winter since 1923.