A Remain pact is needed to stop the Brexit Party from winning Wales
Ifan Morgan Jones
According to a YouGov poll published yesterday Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party is on course to win two of Wales’ four European election seats.
That this new party leads in the polls here after only four months of existence should be a wake-up call to those who have been campaigning for a People’s Vote.
If this single-issue pro-Brexit party does win big in Wales any argument that the nation has changed its mind on Brexit will be dead in the water.
The stakes are high. Over the last two years, it has become clear that Brexit will be a disaster for Wales’ manufacturing, agricultural and higher education-driven economy.
But the extension to the Brexit deadline has given Remainers hope that we may not leave after all.
If Remain is seen to have won these elections on 23 May, the momentum which has already been leaking from Brexit will falter further.
If on the other hand the Brexit Party, and other strongly pro-Brexit parties such as the Conservative and UKIP, get the majority of votes the mandate for Brexit will be renewed.
It’s time that Remain realise that the European Elections in a little over a month’s time is a de facto second referendum.
Remain forces have already repeated one mistake from the 2016 EU Referendum which is that they have been very slow to mobilise for these elections.
Nigel Farage had seen them coming a mile away and had already set up a single-issue party for the express purpose of vacuuming the pro-Brexit vote and making a big impression.
Meanwhile, Welsh Labour remain at sixes and sevens over Brexit and a vote for them is likely to be interpreted as an ambiguous one at the very least.
And the firmly pro-Remain vote in Wales is split up between four parties that have not staked a significant claim to it – Plaid Cymru, the Greens, the Liberal Democrats and Change UK.
The D’Hont proportional representation used for the European elections punishes such splits, meaning that if Remain votes are scattered between four Remain parties it is very likely to reduce their share of the seats.
If these parties continue to work individually, only Plaid Cymru’s Jill Evans has a realistic hope of being elected as things stand.
But the fourth decisive seat is up for grabs, and only by working together can those firmly Remain parties keep it out of the Brexit Party’s hands.
These parties should therefore seriously consider some kind of pro-Remain pact. Together they could punch significantly above their individual weights.
Plaid Cymru and the Green MEPs actually represent the same European Party – the Green/European Free Alliance – at Brussels so it makes even more sense for them to work together.
One strategy would be for all these parties to stand under a Remain banner with Jill Evans first on the list and, given the significant political overlap between them, a candidate from one of the other parties in second place.
This is not a time to be tribal – if the Brexit party does record a significant victory, MEPs could be out of the European Parliament on their ears in a few months, anyway.
It is not just the pro-Remain parties themselves that need to mobilise but their supporters as well.
Since the 2016 Referendum, I have heard frequent complaints about how the campaign in Wales was badly run and people did not know how to get involved.
There was also the excuse that the Welsh Assembly elections had happened only a month before and that campaigners were exhausted.
There was also a sense that Remain would win quite handily and that the campaign wasn’t really needed.
Those excuses won’t wash any more. Everyone knows what is at stake, all the parties will be out campaigning and there haven’t been elections in Wales for two years.
This is it. If Brexit-supporting parties win most of the vote again, Brexit will happen and any hope of another referendum will be quashed forever.
Remainers in Wales claim the country has changed its mind on Brexit. It’s up to them, now, to prove it.
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