Hopes grow for General Election ‘Remain Alliance’ following Brecon and Radnorshire by-election

Plaid Cymru and the Green Party's decision not to stand may have been pivotal.

Remain campaigners have slashed Boris Johnson’s majority to just one MP, after the Liberal Democrats overturned the Tories’ 8,000 vote majority in the Brecon & Radnorshire by-election.

The result has been hailed as a victory for the idea of a ‘Remain Alliance’, after the Green Party and Plaid Cymru stepped aside to boost Lib Dem Jane Dodds’ chances of defeating the Tories’ convicted expenses fraudster Chris Davies.

The Liberal Democrats won 13,826 votes with the Conservatives taking 12,401, a margin of 1,425. Plaid Cymru won 1,299 votes in 2017. Given the party’s rise in the polls since it suggests their decision to step aside could have been pivotal. The Greens did not run in the seat in 2017.

A turning point’

Newly-elected Brecon & Radnorshire MP Jane Dodds – who is leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats – said:
“This victory must be a turning point, not just for our communities here in Brecon and Radnorshire, but for the whole country too.
“People are desperately crying out for a different kind of politics.”

In a hint that the Liberal Democrats will work with other parties in the next General Election, she added: “There is no time for tribalism when our country is faced with a Boris Johnson government and the threat of a no-deal Brexit.”

Liz Saville-Roberts MP, leader of Plaid Cymru’s Westminster group and a leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said:

“The victory of Remain cross-party co-operation and Jane Dodds in Brecon and Radnorshire last night will give those in Downing Street plotting a snap general election pause for thought, because it shows they cannot take the public for granted…

Green new deals

Wales Green Party said their decision not to stand was ‘vindicated’.

“I hope there will be other constituencies where parties can work together so that the people can make their voice heard and we can secure the final say referendum which is the only democratic way to solve this Brexit crisis.”

Anthony Slaughter, leader of the Wales Green Party, said:

“The Green Party’s decision was key…the Liberal Democrat majority was 1,400 votes. We got 1,300 votes in the seat in 2015, while Plaid Cymru, who also withdrew from the by-election, also got that many votes.

“Of course what we need is a change to the undemocratic voting system, to ensure that everywhere in every nation votes can express their political preferences, vote for what they believe in and get it. But until we elect a parliament in Westminster that will reform our system and bring our politics into the 21st century, we have to work within the system we have.”

The Green Party of England & Wales has been running a consultation with members on whether to support ex-Tory Heidi Allen MP’s push for a Remain Alliance at the next election.

In her comments, Sian Berry, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, did not comment on the alliance directly.

‘Hope for a better future’

Leader of the Liberal Democrats Jo Swinson MP said the victory gave ‘hope for a better future for Britain’:

“The people of Brecon and Radnorshire have shown that the country doesn’t have to settle for Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn…

“We are thankful to Plaid Cymru and the Green Party for putting the national interest first and not contesting this by-election. We now have one more MP who will vote against Brexit in Parliament.”

Anti-Brexit group Best for Britain have been calling for parties to work towards a Remain Alliance for the next election. CEO Naomi Smith said:

“The success of Jane Dodds in Brecon and Radnorshire proves that when remain parties work together, they succeed.

Johnson’s majority could soon be cut to zero, as Tory MP Dr Phillip Lee recently revealed that he is considering defecting from the Conservatives, as he feels “politically homeless” over the PM’s push for a no deal Brexit.

“While the Leave side has an inherent advantage in elections due to its vote being concentrated between only two parties whereas the pro-EU vote is split across at least four, working together can clearly help beat those odds.

“More than 100,000 people have now signed our petition calling for these parties to work together. Now that we know it works, we will continue meeting internationalist MPs from all parties and use this model to prevent the Brexit extremists from getting a majority in the event of an election.”

Progressive pact

A spokesperson for the cross-party progressive group Compass – which has been a driving force behind progressive alliances – told Left Foot Forward:

“If progressives don’t get organised, then a Regressive Alliance led by the new PM may crush the opposition in a snap general election. Plaid Cymru and the Green Party have shown that they understand this by standing aside for the Lib Dems in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election. It’s in the spirit of the Progressive Alliance that helped undo the Tory majority two years ago.

“But a Remain Alliance is not the same as a Progressive Alliance. We need progressives to come together on a joint vision for a transformed Britain, starting with our democracy. There’s no merit in a political project that wants to take us back to where we were before the 2016 EU Referendum and it won’t be well-placed to win an election.”

Full result

See also: Green youth wing sets conditions for a Remain Alliance

Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.

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13 Responses to “Hopes grow for General Election ‘Remain Alliance’ following Brecon and Radnorshire by-election”

  1. Nhsgp

    Labour, in Wales, 5%.

    Looks like a complete wipe out, worse that Scotland with the SNP.

  2. Cole

    Voters abandoned Labour and switched to the LibDems. I guess they thought the priority was to boot the Tory out.

  3. Jonathan Bagley

    I’ve always been baffled by why only one non-SNP MP voted against holding a referendum. This wasn’t long after the expenses scandal, at the time when politicians were upset that the public held them in such low regard. They never seem to learn.

  4. Tom Sacold

    Call it what it is – a Blairite alliance !!!

  5. Dave Roberts

    A disaster for Labour and yet another certainty that there will be no general election. Labour were beaten by Brexit! Leave parties took fifty per cent of the vote. Work it out.

  6. Martyn

    If other parties stand aside for the LibDems who will guarantee that they (the LibDems) won’t join another coalition with the Tories? Swinson has already stated that she won’t join a coalition with Labour led by Corbyn. So a radical party like the Greens is being asked to step aside and support the Tory-lite LibDems in the name of ‘Progressive’.

  7. Eric Walker

    We should be asking all the Libdem members we can, why they accepted Nick Clegg’s decision to join forces with the Tories in 2010. I don’t trust the LibDem leadership but have great respect for a lot of local members

  8. Eric Walker

    Is the Labour Party going to remain tribal? Is it going to remain outside an anti-Tory coalition? Is it going to put Party before the welfare of the majority? The truth is that whilst it continues its present path (Islington Labour with 47 out of 48 councillors, tried to remove the one Green opposition!) it is going to decline. Among my friends 3 have already resigned in recent weeks.

  9. Ultraviolet

    I love the fact that, wherever you look, in this discussion about what has happened in a Lib Dem/Tory swing seat, the conversation keeps coming back to Corbyn.

    In 1997, under Blair, Labour came a distant third in this seat. They were third in 1987 and 1992. They were nowhere in this seat in every year since. What happens here says absolutely nothing about Corbyn, and yet Corbyn is all anyone wants to talk about.

  10. Alasdair Macdonald

    Such an ‘electoral pact’ can really only work in parts of England and ‘English’ Wales.

    It will not work in Northern Ireland or in Scotland. In the former, the UK parties do not put up candidates (except in a few cases where they attract derisory votes).

    It will not work in Scotland, because the LibDems would have to give way to the SNP in every seat in Scotland, other than in the four constituencies which the LibDems actually hold. The 13 Tory seats are in rural or fishing areas and nearly all have been held by the SNP this century and the SNP are the nearest challengers to the sitting MPs, whose majorities have been achieved by tactical voting by, mainly, LibDem voters and by a few Labour voters (more of whom abstain, if they do not vote for the Labour candidate).

    If the LibDems are sincere in their offer of a pact – then this is what they would do, thus giving the SNP a likely 55 seats to the Lib Dems 4, with no other parties gaining seats. This would give the SNP an ADDITIONAL mandate for an independence referendum and, some would argue, in the face of unionist intransigence, for independence itself. Now Ms Swinson – her own seat having been won in 2015 by the SNP – is set against any independence for Scotland, even if it means Scotland being removed from the EU.

    Ms Swinson’s party claims to be the only party unequivocally opposed to Brexit, which is not true, since the SNP – a bigger party in terms of seats at Westminster, Holyrood, all of Scotland’s councillors, at Strasbourg and in actual membership – is as hostile, as are the Greens, PC and SF.

    So, the LibDem stance is insincere and many see through it. It is only four years since the LibDems were in Government with the Tories and were even more enthusiastic supporters of austerity than many current Tory politicians, such as Mr Jeremy Hunt. These policies wrought havoc on many communities throughout England (as they did in Scotland, Wales and NI) and were contributory factors in many people in parts of England becoming disenchanted with politics. Some stopped voting, others moved to extremist parties such as UKIP, BNP and Brexit. These people are not going to vote LibDem.

    In many of these parts of England, there was also a resurgence of political interest and this led to the growth of support for Mr Corbyn and Momentum. Ms Swinson, of course, has ruled out any alliance with a Corbyn-led Labour Party.

    So, her only real hope is ‘one-nation’ Tories, mainly in the affluent parts of England. I do not think it is likely to succeed in ‘English’ Wales, Brecon and Radnorshire, notwithstanding. The Tories, Brexit and UKIP got an absolute majority of the votes cast on a relatively low turnout. The constituency will most likely return a Tory at the next GE.

  11. Alex Macfie

    Martyn: Jo has also ruled out coalition with the Tories. Once bitten, twice shy.

  12. We must build an imaginative and pragmatic alliance | Compass

    […] Alliance is not the same as a Progressive Alliance. That’s what we said when we were asked for our view on the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election and it’s what’s keeping us awake at […]

  13. Farage proposes "non-aggression pact" with Hard Brexit Tories | Left Foot Forward

    […] There have been similar calls for a ‘Remain Alliance’ and the Greens and Plaid Cymru did not run against the Liberal Democrats in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election – perhaps helping them win. […]

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