UK Brexit party risks fragmenting the leave vote - Expert

Peter Williams 06/11/2019
Brexit adrift Source: Getty

University of Otago Professor of Politics Robert Patman joins Magic Talk Mornings with Peter Williams to discuss the upcoming December election in the United Kingdom.

Peter begins the interview asking if opinion polls have made it any clearer who stands to benefit from the December elections.

Professor Patman remarks that, “I think this race for Downing Street in the UK will probably be very difficult to predict. One of the things about polling is that they always give sort of flat projections."

"The problem is that Brexit is such a polarising force that we could get some real surprise results where people vote tactically."

"I think a lot of people will be changing their party allegiance in this contest according to whether they favour leaving the EU, or remaining", he says. Peter then asks of the Brexit Party, led by Nigel Farage who is not running for a seat himself, if the party is in a position to win any seats.

I think it will be very difficult for them. They could be a spoiler factor.

Robert says, “the Conservatives have put tremendous pressure on Farage to call off these Brexit Party’s challenge.”

Patman explains Farage has refused to step down claiming that Prime Minister Boris Johnson is failing to deliver Brexit and has just resubmitted Theresa May’s much loathed deal.

Although Robert goes on to highlight how Farage has become isolated recently from some of his major political, and financial, allies which have moved their support to Johnson.

Unless the Brexit Party withdraws, the leave vote runs the risk of being fragmented.

On the question of whether the UK faces an election delivering another Hung Parliament, Patman points to the well respected pollster Sir John Curtice who has suggested that the Liberal Democrats could perform better than their polling suggests if voters engage in tactical voting.

The Liberal Democrats were part of the coalition that first saw David Cameron enter Premiership, the party was decimated in the 2015 elections which returned Cameron to Downing Street with an outright Conservative majority.

The party have been staunch advocates for a second referendum though have since made revoking Article 50 outright and immediately their campaign policy.

Patman goes on to explain that there are challenges for Labour including the need to outperform their polling in London, but it is very difficult to make any predictions due to unresolved issues.

There are a couple of issues percolating away that could explode.

One major danger for Boris Johnson is his refusal to publish a report from a bi-partisan Intelligence and Security committee headed by a former Tory examining Russian influence during the Brexit referendum.

“A lot of people are accusing Johnson of behaving in a self serving way as opposed to acting in the national interest.”

Patman tells Peter that “several prominent” members of the intelligence community have insisted the report be published even if it must circumvent the Prime Minister.

Finally, the conversation ends with Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn’s proposal to renegotiate a Brexit deal, and thereafter submit it to referendum as a choice between his deal and remain.

You can listen to the full interview above.