The Brexit Party is considering giving Boris Johnson a huge boost in December’s general election by only targeting Labour held seats and giving a clear run to committed Tory Brexiteers, according to insiders.
The move would give the Conservative Party a greater chance of winning an overall majority in Parliament, after pollsters warned that the Brexit Party risked splitting the Leave-supporting vote in dozens of marginal seats.
However, the party has vetted up to 600 candidates so far, suggesting that it still could run in more constituencies.
How could the Brexit Party hand the Tories a majority?
Pollsters have suggested that if both the Conservatives and Brexit Party run candidates in some pro-Brexit marginal seats, it would split the anti-EU vote, potentially handing victory to pro-EU candidates from Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
If the Brexit Party narrows its focus to Leave-voting seats with incumbent Labour MPs, it could boost the number of Leave-backing MPs in the House of Commons, without threatening pro-Brexit Conservatives.
Removing the threat of defeating Tory MPs, while inflicting losses on Labour, would boost the chances of the Conservatives winning an overall majority. This would leave Johnson with a pro-Brexit Conservative-led Parliament, increasing the chances of Britain leaving the EU.
A Brexit Party candidate is already reported to have withdrawn in Stone, the Staffordshire constituency of long-standing Tory eurosceptic Bill Cash, according to The Guardian.
Will it happen?
The Brexit Party is reportedly split over whether to narrow its scope, with party chairman Richard Tice in favour of running candidates in all 650 seats, says The Guardian. Farage, who is currently in Washington, is said to be on the fence about the strategy.
A spokesperson for the party described the speculation that it was pulling out of seats as “rubbish”, but admitted that the party was focusing its efforts on Leave heartlands. However, Brexit Party MEP John Longworth recently told The Times that the party “ought to be targeted in terms of the number of seats that we decide to address”.
According to the FT, prospective candidates are still waiting to hear if they will be running. They have also been told to “go DARK on social media” and not to answer questions about where the party is standing.