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  • OK, Here we go.

  • Ready?

  • Yeah.

  • Election 2019.

  • The Paths to Power.

  • So Robert, we now all have the general election that we've

  • been so looking forward to.

  • What do you think of it so far?

  • I've been enjoying it so far.

  • It's only a day.

  • So, so far it's been all right.

  • Yes, barely 24 hours in.

  • Yes, I think we're all fairly confident at last that we have,

  • if not a resolution that there's a plan for a resolution

  • for the starters.

  • So...

  • So if not the beginning of the end, then maybe

  • the end of the beginning.

  • Yes, or the beginning of the beginning.

  • Or the beginning of the beginning.

  • So we're going to try, because there's

  • no sense in which prediction is a mug's game in politics

  • these days, we're going to try and take us

  • through some of the potential outcomes.

  • Yeah.

  • And I think you think there's mainly

  • those can be bulked into three potential election results.

  • And then where that ends us in terms of the Brexit story.

  • Yeah, I think that's right.

  • Three most likely election results,

  • one is a Conservative victory.

  • OK, shall we make that blue?

  • Yeah.

  • Where are we going... where are we going to end this up?

  • How about there?

  • OK.

  • OK.

  • A Conservative party victory is one option.

  • This is outright majority.

  • Outright majority, yes.

  • ...that was lost in 2017.

  • The second option, clearly most people think is less likely,

  • but nonetheless, a Labour victory.

  • OK.

  • Can I have the red pen, please?

  • Thank you very much.

  • I'll keep the black pen now.

  • OK.

  • Yeah.

  • And the third one's a hung parliament.

  • OK.

  • I don't think either of us believe that Liberal Democrats

  • are going to sweep to victory.

  • So these are the three fundamental options.

  • And each one of them has a path to how we get there

  • and significant roadblocks in the way.

  • Very few people vote for a hung parliament, but it is a very,

  • very realistic outcome... many people think the most likely

  • outcome.

  • Because both of the main parties have serious challenges...

  • Absolutely.

  • ...in trying to get a majority, which is what we're going

  • to try and explain a bit today.

  • But obviously, Boris Johnson has been saying for some weeks

  • now that he's desperate to have this election.

  • So why is he going for it if it's such a gamble?

  • And what are the pitfalls in terms of trying

  • to gain that majority?

  • It is an astonishing gamble.

  • When you think about what is at stake for him,

  • he would become, if he lost, the shortest serving prime minister

  • in the last 100 years, the third shortest serving prime minister

  • ever.

  • Brexit, which apparently was his life's mission,

  • would be thrown into real doubt.

  • You know, it might not happen at all because of a referendum.

  • And if it did happen, it'd be a very different Brexit

  • to the kind the Brexiters want.

  • So massive risks here.

  • He would have to secure, essentially,

  • what is the third Tory election victory in a row.

  • That doesn't happen often.

  • He's got no majority in them, which

  • means he's got to gain seats at a time

  • when we know there are places where he's going to lose them.

  • Why has he gone for it?

  • I think because they've made the calculation

  • that if they can't get the deal through quickly

  • that their next best bet is to make Brexit

  • the subject of this election and to set up

  • this people versus parliament election, and say, look,

  • we were going to do what you asked us to do,

  • but parliament wouldn't let us.

  • He's very worried about the Brexit party, Nigel Farage's

  • party.

  • And he thinks he has more chance against them

  • if there aren't months and months of delay and compromise

  • on Brexit now.

  • So if Johnson succeeds - blue pen - in getting his majority.

  • There he is on election night.

  • What does he do next?

  • This is the scenario in which he wins

  • and he carries on with his Brexit plan.

  • Well, if he wins, I think it's quite straightforward.

  • He pushes Brexit through.

  • I have heard people talk about how we'll

  • have Brexit on January the 1st.

  • That seems to be a little bit ambitious in the formation

  • of a new parliament.

  • But in January no further extensions.

  • He's got a majority, and we have a Tory government.

  • That's easy.

  • But, as we know, there are lots of sort of roadblocks.

  • I'm going to put little crosses for roadblocks in the way.

  • OK.

  • OK.

  • So roadblock one is the Brexit party.

  • We know, there you go, you're going to tussle me.

  • Well, no, I mean, it's absolutely true.

  • So it seems to me he's actually got problems on several fronts.

  • He's really vulnerable to the Lib Dems in areas of the UK

  • where Remain is strong, and also where

  • the sort of traditional Tory message of -

  • the traditional Tory message of sort

  • of stability and prosperity - has been really disrupted

  • by them being such enthusiastic Brexiters.

  • So he's vulnerable to the Lib Dems in the south of England.

  • If he's losing those seats, he's got to pick them up elsewhere.

  • He thinks he's going to pick up all these seats from the Labour

  • party in the north of England, in the Midlands.

  • He kind of needs to do that to compensate.

  • The Brexit party, if they stand against him,

  • could really mess it up for him.

  • But they've gone quite quiet.

  • They have.

  • So are they still biding their time, do we think?

  • Or do we think they've realised that the Brexit side that will

  • win in this election, either Remain or Leave,

  • will have to be the side that's most united?

  • I mean, I think it's a massive question for Nigel Farage.

  • But essentially there is only one way

  • that we are guaranteed Brexit after the general election,

  • and that is a Conservative victory.

  • That is the only path that guarantees Brexit.

  • And if Nigel Farage stands and runs

  • a good campaign against him, his primary achievement

  • will be to throw Brexit into doubt.

  • So it's a massive question.

  • But if you go through this... you take the Liberal Democrats.

  • You're absolutely right.

  • They're a huge threat to the Conservatives

  • in certain places.

  • There are some seats in London and in the south, which

  • the Conservatives have effectively given up

  • on holding, because they know the Lib Dems are going

  • to take those seats off them.

  • St Albans, maybe Cheltenham, some in London,

  • you know, Richmond Park.

  • There's quite a lot actually.

  • These are places where the Tories know the Lib

  • Dems are likely to beat them.

  • I'm just going to add one here.

  • OK, add another.

  • I'm just going to add the SNP.

  • The SNP, yes, good point.

  • So in the Lib Dems, they know there's

  • a lot of places they've got to run.

  • Most of Lib Dem target seats are Conservative seats.

  • And a lot of them are very vulnerable.

  • I think the Tories have essentially written those

  • off, more or less, already.

  • They'll try and pull a few back so the Lib Dems don't make

  • quite the inroads they expect.

  • But they've more or less written them off.

  • Their strategy is to take the seats of Labour, as you said.

  • The problem with the Brexit party

  • is not that I think that it can win many, or indeed any, seats,

  • but that in an election where there are four parties,

  • it doesn't need to do much to be a spoiler.

  • Take Wolverhampton South West.

  • It was Enoch Powell's seat back in the day.

  • The Tory party lost it to Labour a few elections back.

  • Labour still holds it.

  • It's got a majority of about 2,100.

  • So an absolute prime target seat, a seat the Tories

  • absolutely have to take, a real homeland

  • of the Conservative working class vote.

  • Yes.

  • Exactly the target they expect to take off the Labour party.

  • If the Brexit party go in there and take a few thousand votes,

  • that could be the difference.

  • It could make it too hard to call,

  • if those votes for Labour, votes that the Tories needed

  • or whatever.

  • So it throws it all up into the air.

  • And the Brexit party can be the massive spoilers

  • for Boris Johnson in this election.

  • So I think we agree then.

  • It's not that we're expecting the Brexit party,

  • if they run an aggressive campaign,

  • to pick up loads of MPs.

  • It's that they could mess things up.

  • Absolutely.

  • As for Boris.

  • And I think that's why they're holding back at the moment.

  • Yes.

  • And I think the Tories' whole strategy is taking those Labour

  • seats, some of which look very vulnerable,

  • some of which look a stretch to me.

  • If they lose as many seats to the Lib Dems

  • as we sort of think they're going to.

  • It's a big question mark for me.

  • And, as you said, Scotland as well.

  • If they lose most of their 13 seats.

  • Thirteen, they've got.

  • So you've got 13 Scottish Tories.

  • Yeah, and we think it can be down to three possibly.

  • Yeah.

  • So even on a generous estimate, they'

  • lose, say, 20 to 25 seats between the SNP and the Liberal

  • Democrats.

  • They've then got to pick up 40-odd seats from Labour that

  • they didn't win last time, when, it's worth remembering,

  • Theresa May got 42 per cent of the vote.

  • So it's a big, big ask.

  • And it's a real problem for Boris Johnson.

  • Then the other thing is he wants to win

  • the whole election talking about Brexit and delivery.

  • And the more the other parties can get him off it,

  • the more problematic it is for him.

  • So this little person here, that I've drawn here,

  • in his charming flat cap, he is supposed

  • to be a kind of stereotypical northern, Brexit-voting, white,

  • working class chap over the age of 60.

  • Is he?

  • OK.

  • ...

  • - who is Tory -

  • I thought that very clear.

  • He is the person that the Tory party has decided they need

  • to get onside in order to win all these Labour seats.

  • They're calling him Workington Man, another one

  • of these unbelievably insulting sorts of monikers

  • that party politics chooses for their target voter.

  • Yeah.

  • But the crucial thing is Workington

  • is a town in Cumbria.

  • It's a fairly marginal Labour-held seat and very

  • Brexity.

  • Yeah.

  • So they think they can get all these people to vote Tory,

  • even if they...

  • Even if they've spent their whole lives hating the Tories.

  • Exactly, which, I mean, I have to say, even with Brexit

  • as this very disruptive force in British politics,

  • I think that's a big ask.

  • And that's where the Brexit party is so interesting