Unite to Remain: In which regions could the idea work?

10 Aug 2019

 

Unite to Remain does exactly what it says on the tin. The MPs behind it are aiming to unite the Remain parties under one umbrella party in order to fight the next general election, which could come as early as autumn 2019. Certain constituencies already have Remain MPs, so they will be fighting to retain their seats, but in others, the task is much harder, so, on a seat by seat basis, they will be evaluating whether it is worth uniting under one umbrella to fight a no-deal Brexit.

 

Although a deal for a joint candidate in the Peterborough by-election fell through at the last minute, due to circumstances that have still not been made clear, in Brecon and Radnorshire, all the Remain parties stood aside to allow the more credible candidate, Liberal Democrat, Jane Dodds, to win.

 

Here is a region by region analysis of where Unite to Remain could be successful.

 

Scotland

 

Due to Scotland having a second independence referendum at the forefront of their political agenda, Unite to Remain have recently clarified that they will not be targeting any Scottish seats in the event of an autumn snap general election.

 

 

Wales

 

Plaid Cymru stood aside for the Liberal democrats in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election because they believed they had the better chance of winning.

 

Looking at Wales from a Westminster point of view, there are no real battlegrounds like there would be in Scotland or in other regions as other margin's are too high for a Remain candidate to be able to catch up. The odds would be stacked against them.

 

Plaid Cymru stood aside in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election on August 1st, as did the Greens. It is thanks to the Unite to Remain campaign that backed the Liberal Democrat remain candidate, Jane Dodds, that she won with just over 43% of the vote share, beating the recalled Conservative Brexiteer MP, Chris Davies. The Brecon and Radnorshire by-election was a blue print for how the actual Unite to Remain campaign could work. Heidi Allen has been in the media talking about how many seats she predicts they might win and how they will achieve their targets.

 

 

South West

 

One Remain candidate who has a shot in this region of either retaining or gaining their seat is Wera Hobhouse, who is the current MP for Bath. Her majority currently stands at 5,694, and was a 2017 gain for the Lib Dems.

 

It would make sense for the Green Party and any other independent Remain MPs to stand aside in order to give Wera Hobhouse a shot at retaining her seat in the event of a snap election. Bath and North East Somerset Council is now controlled by the Liberal Democrats, and the region gained two Liberal Democrat MEPs in the 2019 European parliamentary elections, so all of the recent stats go in favour of the current MP for Bath to retain her seat. 

 

 

London and the South East

 

There would be many candidates in London who would challenge seats on behalf of an official Remain alliance. Chuka Umunna, under a Labour banner, gained a super majority of 26,285, but it is highly unlikely he would retain this high a majority under a Remain banner. But it would still make sense to keep him as the number one Remain candidate in Streatham. He has settled well into the Lib Dems since switching from The Independent Group for Change, and he has had a positive response from his constituents. He most likely would retain his seat, but with a reduced majority.

 

Other notable names in London include Sir Vince Cable, Sir Ed Davey and Tom Brake, all of whom would be expected to challenge their seats under the Unite to Remain banner.

 

 

North West

 

It would be expected that the top Remain candidate in the North West would be former Liberal Democrat Leader, Tim Farron. In 2017, he retained his constituency of Westmoreland and Lonsdale with a majority of 777. The constituency that Tim Farron is the MP for is large and rural, so he understands how difficult Brexit may be for farmers and suppliers.

 

 

North East

 

Angela Smith, who represents Penistone and Stocksbridge is part of the new, loosely-formed group of independents. Her majority, which she gained as a Labour MP, was 1,322. In this constituency, it would make numerical sense for the Liberal Democrats to stand aside in favour of the pro European Independent candidate.

 

 

East of England

 

The most prominent Remain voice in the East of England is Independent MP Heidi Allen. She is one of the founding MPs behind Unite to Remain. She won her majority of 15,952 under the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats made a gain of 3.4% and the Greens lost 4.9% of their vote share from 2015. So again, it makes sense in South Cambridgeshire (and not just because Heidi Allen MP is the face of Unite to Remain) for her to be the solo Remain candidate for the constituency.

 

 

West Midlands

 

It is highly unlikely that Unite to Remain could win any seats at all in this region, due to the fact that most marginals are most likely to turn to Conservative or Labour. However, there are target seats in this region. Dudley North, whose MP is Brexiteer Independent Ian Austin only has a majority of 22. Although it is a slim majority, the nearest two rivals were the Conservatives, who saw a 15+% surge in 2017, and UKIP who saw a 18+% drop in votes. So it is a battleground to win over those who are undecided.

 

Another key marginal in the region is Newcastle-Under-Lyme, which is currently held by Labour's Paul Farrelly. The Liberal Democrats did hold the Birmingham Yardley seat until 2015, when one of Labour's strongest Remain voices, Jess Phillips, won the seat.

 

 

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