Earlier this week, it was up in the air as to whether Nigel Farage and the Brexit Party would field candidates across all constituencies or whether he would focus solely on 20-30 Leave-leaning Labour seats. Since then, it's now emerged that he's going to field an entire 600 candidates, which begs the question - what does this mean for Brexit?
It's a well-known fact that Nigel Farage is one of the most prominent campaigners for Brexit and has been for the last twenty-five years or so; the establishment of his new Brexit Party back in March has only thrusted him further into the political limelight. Despite the new name and perhaps single-issue party, Farage's views haven't really changed since the referendum - he demands that Britain leaves the EU without a deal in what he has characterised as a 'Clean Break' Brexit. Indeed, he has chosen not to stand as an MP in the upcoming December election, but instead to field 600 candidates. He stated that by not standing as a candidate, he could “serve the cause better traversing the length [of the country]”, meaning that his perceived gusto and vigour won't be leaving us any time soon.
As much as Farage has been a key advocate of Brexit for many years now, choosing to field candidates nationwide could be his political undoing. This has the potential to split the Leave vote right down the middle between the Brexit Party and Boris Johnson's Conservative Party, leaving no clear winner on that side of the camp. Furthermore, this could allow a victory for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party as voters become disillusioned with a choice to make on the Leave side of British politics.
Steve Baker, chair of the European Research Group, a band of hardline Conservative Brexiteers, has been vocal in Farage's decision, warning that Farage is risking the creation of a hung Parliament with the split of the vote. He stated that "That’s the irony of Nigel Farage. He risks being the man who hands Boris a weak and indecisive Parliament, and bringing about, therefore, his own worst fears." Personally, I'd agree with Baker's perceptions - as much as I ardently disagree with his political affiliations, his scathing attack on Farage makes sense. Farage has the ability to exacerbate the position of the incumbent Tory government by allowing Brexit Party candidates to stand against them. This risks the cancellation of Brexit if the Labour Party and Jeremy Corbyn gets the keys to Downing Street, or other parties aligned on the Remain side.
All of this arrives after Farage once again extended a pledge to Boris Johnson for a 'Leave Alliance' to counteract the band of opposition parties such as the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party in their own 'Remain Alliance'. However, on two occasions now, Johnson has declined Farage's election pact, choosing to campaign on his own to keep the Tories in power for a fourth time since 2010. This is perhaps because Farage has been vocal against Johnson's Brexit Deal and therefore, it would be rather difficult to find some common ground.
It's not just this 'Leave Alliance' that has the power to split the vote. The 'Remain Alliance' between all the parties that wish to revoke Article 50 has a bigger potential to split the votes of the electorate. In part, this makes life a lot harder for voters - on one side, you've got the Conservatives and the Brexit Party, campaigning for two different types of Brexit, and then on the other, you've got parties that whilst they have a clear agenda to stop Brexit, some voters see this as a betrayal of the initial 2016 referendum. Then, somewhere in the middle of this, you've got the Labour Party, who I don't think anyone has a clue about - they change dependent upon which way the wind blows personally speaking.
In conclusion, this election in December is going to be a great barometer of public opinion. If current polls are to be believed, the Conservatives should walk it, with a fair majority. However, with Nigel Farage's spanner firmly in the works, anything could happen. There's only just over a month until the election now, and so, we'll have to wait and see.