THE former chair of the Conservative Party in Yorkshire’s second most marginal constituency today urges residents to vote Labour in the general election to stop Brexit.
Dr Jason Aldiss makes the intervention in The Yorkshire Post after resigning his post – and Tory membership – in the wake of Boris Johnson’s election as Prime Minister in late July.
His decision follows 24 years of loyal service to the Tory party and intensifies the pressure on Pudsey MP Stuart Andrew, a Brexit-backing supporter of Mr Johnson, whose majority was cut to 331 votes in the 2017 election. The West Yorkshire seat is now the 26th most marginal in Britain.
Pudsey is part of Leeds which saw 50.3 per cent of voters back Remain in the 2016 referendum.
Last night Mr Andrew, a Government whip, played down the move, saying: “Jason doesn’t live in the constituency. I know he is very much for Remain but the country made a decision to leave the EU. That’s democracy and we have got to deliver it.”
But, writing in today’s newspaper, Dr Aldiss describes Mr Johnson – and “acolytes” like the PM’s chief of staff Dominic Cummings – as “insurgents, chancers and double-dealers” rather than “true Conservatives”.
He also warns that Brexit – for them – is “about personal advancement and, for some of their number, the misguided pursuit of ideological purity. It will all go horribly wrong”. And, in a further indication that the outcome of the December 12 election will be the most unpredictable for a generation, Dr Aldiss advises people to vote tactically. Labour’s hard-left candidate Jane Aitchison, president of the Leeds TUC, is standing in Pudsey.
He believes that tactical voting, culminating with “an overwhelming vote for pro-Remain parties”, would guarantee a “second Brexit referendum” with two options put to the people – the deal negotiated by Mr Johnson’s predecessor Theresa May or the UK staying in the EU.
Dr Aldiss says such a vote could be presided over by an interim administration before another general election next year. “Crucially, I include the Opposition parties in this as much as voters. Agreement on which candidate is best-placed in each seat to defeat the sitting Conservative should be the rule rather than the exception,” he adds. “Voters must then play their part by supporting that candidate. Tribal loyalties can resume on another occasion. If I can do it, then so can you. And in case anyone asks, no I will not be singing, humming or whistling The Red Flag as I place my cross on the ballot paper.”
But Mr Andrew, first elected in 2010, said that he was receiving a “very positive” response on the doorstep from both Leavers, and also Remainers, who simply want Brexit “done”. “The real danger is if the number of people saying they will never take part in another election if we don’t deliver Brexit,” he said.
His response came as the PM apologised for failing on his “do-or-die” promise to implement Brexit by Halloween. Asked if he took personal responsibilty for this, Mr Johnson said: “Well, I do.”
And Treasury chief secretary Rishi Sunak, the Richmond MP, left open the possibility of the Tories pursuing no deal Brexit. “I’m not going to comment on the manifesto specifically.”
Parties in new plot to scupper PM
The Liberal Democrats are not ruling out taking part in a Remain electoral alliance in dozens of seats across the UK to boost the chances of denying Boris Johnson a majority.
Talks have been under way between the unequivocally pro-EU parties of the Lib Dems, Plaid Cymru and the Greens to boost the chances of electing anti-Brexit MPs.
The pact would see two of the three parties stand aside to favour the one with the best chance of victory, replicating the success seen in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election. Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson did not rule out a report that the pact could see an alliance across up to 60 seats.