Is this the new politics that Nigel Farage has been promising at successive elections: no consultation within the Brexit party before announcing the decision to stand down 317 candidates (Farage urged to give Tories free run at Labour seats, 12 November)? There are likely to be many unhappy prospective candidates and their teams of helpers who thought they were going to be part of Farage’s Brexit revolution and who should now be seeking refunds as the party is not fit for purpose. But spare a thought for longstanding supporters of the Tory party, already feeling alienated by their party’s continual tacking to the right, who can only speculate about the behind-the-scenes concessions that will have been offered to Farage (In the Tory heartlands of the commuter belt, remainers may revolt, Journal, 11 November). Perhaps this group of switchers will be prove critical in denying Johnson the majority he craves?
• The promise of peerages, knighthoods and other “honours” have long been a key element of government weaponry, traditionally exercised with circumspection by whips in shadowy corners of the Palace of Westminster. But Brexit appears to have a driven coach and horses through discretion around Lords nominations, with the Conservatives apparently offering a peerage to Nigel Farage in advance of his Brexit party withdrawing candidates from Tory-held seats. This comes on the back of Theresa May’s resignation honours list, including a life peerage for a Labour MP who had consistently supported her Brexit deals. Where this leaves the House of Lords Appointments Commission, charged with vetting the propriety of all nominations, remains to be seen.
Labour MP for Wakefield, 1987-2005
• Polly Toynbee makes the very timely and pertinent point that those opposed to Brexit need to present a united front at the election (Farage’s Brexit move means remainers’ pact is now urgent, Journal, 12 November). However, she needs to address her arguments to Labour. As long as Labour refuses point-blank to withdraw candidates in any constituency, a full remain pact is impossible. The Liberal Democrats, the Green party and Plaid Cymru have bitten the bullet and done deals in 60 constituencies. It is now entirely up to Labour. It is the key test of whether it is at heart a pro-Brexit party or not.
• In exchange for standing down candidates, the Lib Dems should ask Labour for a manifesto commitment to electoral reform. It would be a win-win situation for progressive politics.
Balcombe, West Sussex
• Polly Toynbee’s optimism is as absurd as the Liberal Democrats’ posturing. We should not forget that the Lib Dem economic philosophy is cut from the same cloth as the Conservative version. How progressive is that? We should also remember that political liberals in Britain are just as fearful of socialism as are conservatives. This is as true of 21st-century Britain as it was of the Weimar republic in the early 1930s. How progressive was that?
• Polly Toynbee rightly urges an electoral pact between Greens, Lib Dems and Labour. But even without a formal agreement among progressives, Toynbee is correct to say “don’t believe anyone who claims to know which way the wind is blowing”. Chris Curtis of YouGov is spot-on: “Farage’s decision … will likely make very little difference”. Jeremy Corbyn is already using Farage’s shift to move the campaign narrative away from Brexit and on to Labour’s preferred ground of Tory austerity versus Labour hope. For the benefit of Tory remainers, Jo Swinson tweeted: “The Conservative party are the Brexit party now”. As Will Tanner of the centre-right thinktank Onward says: “It would be a mistake to say that this is a completely game-changing moment that means Boris is on course for a huge majority”.
• This is a plea to voters in North Somerset, a safe Tory seat as the other parties never agree to putting up one anti-Tory candidate in election after election. This disenfranchises a large part of the electorate who wish to overturn years of neglect by successive Tory governments. We watch with horror the growing number of food banks, the homelessness in our cities, the overcrowding in our schools, the complete disregard for climate change and the stealthy privatisation of our NHS. Please put aside party politics and agree on one candidate who just might overturn the Tory majority. Otherwise we are probably in for a rightwing dictatorship under Johnson and a crash out of the EU will be the least of our troubles.
Pill, North Somerset
• Should Nigel Farage’s standing down of Brexit party candidates in favour of the Conservatives be viewed as a Brexit deal alliance or a Brexit no-deal alliance? Realistically it can’t be both. Nobody seriously believes that that an EU free trade deal could be negotiated within 12 months (or six months, given the July deadline for transition extension) and thus either Johnson will extend or there will be no deal at the end of 2020. The likely counter-argument to this is that “nobody thought he could get the deal he did”. That perhaps carries weight if interpreted as “nobody thought he would go back to the initial deal Theresa May had rejected and throw the DUP under the bus”, but raises the question as to who will be thrown under the bus this time. The only certainty is that some proportion of the British electorate will be – as this alliance is selling two mutually incompatible propositions.
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