Can Boris Johnson win a general election? I FT

The FT’s assistant UK news editor Siona Jenkins talks to political experts and visits crucial swing seats in Guildford, south of London, and Halifax in Yorkshire, where she discusses the prime minister’s strategy with Labour and former Conservative MPs, and Liberal Democrat and Brexit Party candidates. Read more at

Can you make a promise today to the british public that you will not go back to brussels and ask for another delay to drugs it yes and and would you i’d rather be dead in a ditch boris johnson has promised that britain will leave the eu by october 31st do or die to fulfil this pledge he’s portrayed himself as fulfilling the will of the people against parliament and

Even the supreme court people of this country can see perfectly clearly what is going on they know that parliament does not want to honor its promises to respect to referendum the people at home know that this parliament will keep the name it will keep sabotaging the negotiations because they don’t want the october 31st deadline is looming but with no majority in

Parliament it is all but inevitable that the prime minister will be forced to go to the polls in the coming months but the question is will mr. johnson’s strategy of pitting the people against parliament win him a general election to try and answer that question i’m speaking to whitehall and polling experts at the ft and visiting the marginal seats of halifax which

Labour could lose to the tories and phil furred which the tories could lose to the liberal democrats the calculation of the prime minister and his team in downing street is that people in the country are just fed up with the whole pected thing they just want it over they’ve really annoyed we didn’t leave the eu on master 29th that also annoyed we didn’t leave on

April the 12th and i’m gonna be particularly annoyed we didn’t leave on october the 31st now the natural person to blame would be the prime minister because he’s the one trying to deliver pregnant but he wants to spin that on his head and say actually it’s not me i’ve been trying to use its these people in parliament who are to blame now this is not something you

Normally see in police general elections normally leaders are trying to get a bigger parliamentary majority to give themselves the ability to pass through all their different policies but we have very few our mood in britain at the moat there’s a lot of anger in the country and he will certainly do blame remain supporting mp’s churches and even the speaker in some

Cases for not delivering breaks it so they’re confident this populist message will work but they could easily backfire it couldn’t fact say mr. johnson you came in promising deliver brexit and you failed just like the rest of them we’re gonna get a deal that’s the plan anyway if we don’t were coming out anyway boris johnson’s election strategy depends on winning

Over labour voters in parts of northern england that voted to leave in 2016 places like here in halifax which ready to leave the eu in 2016 but has been solidly labour since the late 1980s can boris johnson’s people versus parliament’s strategy work here stephen baynes is chairman of the west yorkshire conservatives and is a local councillor i think that they are

They are back in what the prime minister is trying to do i think they are pleased that he is pushing for it most of them you know the majority did vote to to leave europe that is still what they want to do and they are disappointed that brexit had not been delivered by the parliamentarians who had a they they firmly believe at a mandate to fulfil and they have

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Still haven’t fulfilled that mandate and boris is the only one was really trying hard to fulfill that wish liebherr voters could switch because we tend to be in the mid ground of politics and labor at the moment they’re putting through some very hard left-wing policies and i think that will count against them and i don’t find many apart from in really hard labor

Heartland of people who like jeremy corbyn the question is does the love of braixen trump the traditional hatred of the tories in these seats margaret thatcher’s anathema these are the post-industrial seats that were completely destroyed by the conservatives in the 1980s and the calculation is the linked parties now gone so far to the left and is also very much

A remain party now that the tories are now more connected economically and socially with the voters in those seats so boris would like to win this it’s in fact he has to win those seats if he’s going to get a majority the next election but this has been predicted before it’s been happening 2017 and the only thing that might make it happen this time is the sheer

Force of boris’s personality this government that i lead has been trying truly to get us out and most people most people indeed most supporters of the party opposite regardless of how they voted three years ago think the referendum must be respected they want brexit done halifax is incumbent labour mp polly lynch know she has a small majority only just over five

Thousand at the last election but she thinks boris johnson’s strategy will alienate many voters in her constituency and that labour policies appeal whatever people feel about jeremy corbyn the party leader so whereas those national politics play out i’ve no doubt that boris will connect with some people but even traditional conservative voters that i’ve spoken

To are concerned about some of the recklessness that is a characteristic of the way he conducts himself and his politics that deliberately divisive language that he uses we are a diverse community here in coaldale and in halifax so i really would have concerns if he thinks that he is taking halifax at the next general election and where i’ve been out speaking to

People actually there’s a newfound respect which has been odd for the work of politicians and understanding that it is complicated stuff that we are doing and there is an acknowledgement there no actually i think we need a bit more grown-up politics if we’re going to go forward this mr. speaker was ten minutes of bluster from a dangerous prime minister who thinks

He is above the law there’s nothing new about leaders of parties being a bit like marmite on occasion i get people that love jeremy corbyn i get people that they’re not convinced and you want to speak to all of those people you need to build that coalition of support to be in government so i hear those concerns but people are usually i was very enthusiastic about

Labour’s policies on what they are enthusiastic about getting rid of starett a replace in a conservative government that northern pennine towns have really felt that impact of all those years of austerity to also declare the progressive part of boris johnson’s high-stake strategy was pro rowing or suspending parliament for five weeks in effect a bid to minimize

Debate by mps on brexit but it was ruled unlawful by the supreme court ft data journalist john byrne murdoch says the way that voters reacted to that decision reveals how mr. johnson’s election strategy could play in labour seats in the north absolutely no disrespect to the judiciary to say i think the court was wrong to promote is from 2017 he voted leave were

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Actually completely split on prorogation so 44% of labour leave voters said pro immigration was correct despite the supreme court decision 43 percent opposed it so you’re looking there at people who haven’t very conservative in the past but do back johnson’s strategy on this the question however on those is going to be is is backing johnson’s individual stance

Enough to make labor voters vote conservative and what we see here is there’s evidence from the european parliament elections early in the year that for plenty of labour leave voters you know they’re they’re reacting against their own party’s stance on brexit but they’re reacting towards for example the brexit party so there is a clear danger that in areas like

Halifax the lee folks could be split between tories and the brexit party sarah wood is the party’s halifax candidate there is a definite difference between what the people want and what the parliament want now whether or not that will be something which is good for boras in a future general election maybe possibly not and the reason i say that is because it might

Be the right message but are the conservative party the right vehicle to actually present that to the people probably not because some of their incumbent mp is a part of the people versus the parliament problem whatever happens on the 31st of october if the message that he’s been given currently in the mainstream media he doesn’t honor so if he doesn’t have us

Leave and honor the requirements of the eu referendum in 2016 then i think that would bode very bad way for the conservative party and boris johnson and i think people are angry enough to let go of labor and to look for another party another danger for the conservatives is that while mr. johnson’s strategy might appeal to leave voting towns in northern england and

The midlands it could alienate too many remain supporting tory voters in places like guilford the wealthy town to the south of london has had mostly conservative mps since 1945 guilford’s mp and milton within the current government until she lost the party width after voting for the bill to prevent an odile brexit now sitting as an independent she thinks boris

Johnson’s strategy will see her constituency switch to the liberal democrats pitting parliament against people is saying we’re happy for you to lose trust environments well i think it’s a very very high stakes game because parliamentary democracy is important in this country it’s important to any other any country and suddenly over this one issue we’re saying tell

With it i was aware before the results of the leadership election were announced that boris johnson would not necessarily sit comfortably with the people of guildford with quite a moderate place i would say we’re radically moderately guilford’s there are people who want to leave that european union without still i mean they email me but i think most people want a

Moderate solution to the results of the 2016 election i think boris johnson’s strategy would make it quite difficult for the conservatives to win guildford without doubt mr. speaker the truth is that members opposite are living in a fantasy world she also believes boris johnson’s election optimism could be misplaced with four parties in play labour the tories the

Liberal democrats and the brexit party you think back to 2017 and you know the conservatives felt that well definitely 660 seats will win you know we might even get a hundred and it tanks i mean these things happen just during campaigns so i think that the prime minister is paid playing a very very high-risk game on the results of a general election and on what

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Will happen to the economy after we leave so if we look at somewhere like guilford for example in 2017 the conservatives got 55 percent of the votes and in 2016 59 percent of people and golf and voted remain so if you assume that broadly equivalent people voted in those two elections we know that a decent chunk of the conservatives must have been remained voters

The tories have got a fairly solid margin there but that really could erode quite quickly if you have a lot of those those conservative voters feeling that because of prorogation or because of the general tone that is now being used in parliament they’re no longer willing to vote that party as with the cases of the leave-leave voting seats there is then that

Separate question of do people move away do voters move away from the conservatives to a rival party such as the lib dems or do they simply you know refrain from casting a vote at all and milton’s view is echoed by the liberal democrats who are committed to remaining in the eu under their new leader joe swinson and are hopeful that seats like guildford will swing

To them possibly with the help of tactical voting by labour and green party supporters when i talk to people and one of the first things that always comes up on doorsteps is brexit people are very keen to make it stop and people are saying to me it’s it fills me with deep concern that boyce johnson and the government are determined to push through a no deal brexit

If they can’t be the deal that really worries people and then they move on and say but beyond brexit actually the government doesn’t have issues and policies that resonate with me so in may we have the local elections here in guildford and the liberal democrats were over and above that the winner in terms of votes share the conservators went down significantly

In the european elections people chose to take their vote elsewhere and the liberal democrats came out top in the europeans so we’ve already seen a shift and then i think from the conversations that i’ve having that shift wordy continue hardened conservative voters who voted conservative all of their lives are actually turning on saying i can’t vote conservative

Anymore because of brexit because of this shift towards the right in terms of policy the sad truth is that voters have no say voters have more say over i’m a celebrity than they do over this house of commons boris johnson’s policy of pitting voters against parliament is a huge gamble brexit has upended traditional party loyalties and there is no predicting exactly

How remain supporting tories or leave supporting labour voters will act but what is clear is that mr. johnson needs as many of those labour voters in northern and midland towns as he can get to balance the remain supporting seats he loses in other parts of the country to do that he must prevent the brexit party from splitting the leave vote which means pushing

Through brexit at all costs whether or not he can meet his pledge to do this by october thirty-first will be key to his success

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Can Boris Johnson win a general election? I FT By Financial Times

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