Tory Choice: Political Extinction or Halloween Brexit
There was a special election to replace an MP in the Peterborough district.
Nigel Farage's Brexit party was supposed to win the seat.
It didn't, and Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Party leader, was mistakenly crowing.
Understanding the Message
“Peterborough has shown clear support for Labour’s programme to end austerity and invest in services and communities, rejecting a decade of Tory cuts and their disastrous handling of Brexit. In this key seat, the Conservatives have been pushed to the margins."
What a hoot.
Labour's percentage fell 16 percentage points from the last election.
Brexit has split both Labour and the Tories.
Tweet of the Day
"A remarkable result for our 8 week old party. If we can come so close in our 201st target seat, no seat is safe."
That's the correct message.
Message from Peterborough
Eurointelligence get it correct.
Labour won the Peterborough by-election by the thinest of margins - a few hundred votes - followed closely by the Brexit Party. The Tories were in a distant third place. The result will serve as a useful reminder for the Tories of the Brexit party’s destructive potential. Labour won the seat despite a loss of 16pp compared to the previous election. Farage managed to split the conservative wing into two, thus handing Labour what would otherwise have been an easy win for the Tories given the circumstances in which the by-election took place. Forget all the complacent talk about Farage never having won a seat for himself at a general election. This totally misses the point of what is happening in British politics right now. Even if the Brexit Party were only able to secure a small number of seats, it would still have the potential to wipe out the Tories. First-past-the-post systems leverage small political swings into huge re-distributions of seats.
The by-election will serve as yet another reminder to the Tories that they are facing a straight trade-off between political extinction and a Halloween Brexit. The UK’s political class spent the long hours ahead of the Peterborough results discussing the mechanics of a no-deal Brexit, concluding that it is not possible or realistic for a PM to prorogue parliament - the theoretical ability to suspend the House of Commons in late October. We think the main effect of this debate has been to isolate Dominic Raab, the most extreme of the pro-Brexit candidates. Moderate Tories now support Boris Johnson - just savour this statement for a moment. The contest is his to lose.
There are two scenarios that could lead to new elections. The first is a no-confidence vote that Labour said it will deliver when the new government is installed. The second would be a decision by Johnson to call elections - subject to the usual parliamentary procedures - to gain a majority for his own Brexit strategy.
For the moment Johnson has positioned himself in the right spot: an absolute commitment to the Oct 31 leaving date, together with a willingness to compromise on an agreement. There exists no viable strategy for the Tories away from this finely calibrated line.
Eurointelligence Nails It
I am increasingly at odds with Eurointelligence commentary. But this is not one of those times.
Explaining Theresa May's Deal
Pater Tenebrarum at the Acting Man Blog has a fitting set of political cartoons. Check it out.
Also check out this video. It's hilarious.
Matter of Survival
As a matter of survival, Tories need to deliver Brexit by November.
A lengthy delay or a customs union without a short, firm, time limit does not deliver Brexit.
Can Johnson deliver?
I ask that question in Stop Boris Madness In Five Pictures.
My conclusion: "Those backing Remain would do best to support BoJo and hope he makes a big mistake."
Mike "Mish" Shedlock