Who would you rather see in no 10 Downing Street – Jeremy Corbyn or Nigel Farage?
The question is not as preposterous as it sounds. With a recent Comres poll finding the Brexit Party is now in second place in general election voting intention, behind Labour but ahead of the Conservatives, voters worried about the prospect of a Corbyn government could find themselves having to make a difficult choice when it comes to the next general election.
Our current first-past-the-post voting system ensures that every election is essentially a two-horse race, with the two biggest parties vying for an outright majority and the smaller parties hoping for the chance of winning enough seats to be invited to join a coalition government in the event of no overall majority being reached. Ever since Jeremy Corbyn took over the leadership of the Labour Party, the Conservatives have been relying on the assumption that no matter how disillusioned voters may be with their abject failure to deliver on their manifesto promises, they would still, when push comes to shove, hold their noses and vote for the Tories in order to prevent a Labour victory.
But now that it’s the Brexit Party that’s in second place, it’s no longer “Vote Conservative to stop Corbyn”. It’s “Vote Brexit Party to stop Corbyn”
The Sunday Times today quotes a senior executive at Coutts, the bank used by the Queen and favoured by many wealthy clients, saying “Many clients are more worried about a Corbyn government than about Brexit”. Big businesses, who have spent the past four years warning about the dangers of Brexit, may find themselves suddenly having to hold their noses and back the Brexit Party as their fears of a Corbyn government override their concerns about Brexit (for which most of them are, by now, fully prepared in any event).
By the time the next general election happens, the Brexit Party will hopefully have a proper manifesto, and potentially even a new name. Without wanting to try to predict their overall policy aims, it’s pretty easy to guess where the party will fall on economic issues – firmly on the side of free enterprise, low taxation and limited state involvement. And in a straight choice between that, and Jeremy Corbyn’s plans for state ownership of utilities, higher taxes and worker seats on boards, it is not hard to predict which way business owners – big and small – will lean.
As the old Chinese curse says, “May you live in interesting times”. As a result of the failure of the political class to deliver Brexit, times could be about to get very interesting indeed.