Today, Open Britain – the rebranded Remain campaign – launched a tactical voting campaign aimed at unseat MPs, Conservative and Labour, who supported Leave in last year’s referendum. At the same time, Tony Blair urges aggrieved Remainers to “elevate” the campaign above the status of a “conventional partisan election” – neither the floridity of that language nor his denials that he supports tactical voting manage to conceal what he means.
Obviously, that puts those Conservative MPs who support Open Britain in an awkward position. They might share the organisation’s views, but they cannot go into an election supporting a campaign which seeks to unseat any of their Conservative colleagues.
I put that question to Nicky Morgan this morning, and she has responded with the news that she, Anna Soubry and Dominic Grieve – the most high profile Tory supporters of Open Britain – are withdrawing their support:
“As long standing Conservative Party members and MPs it is untenable for us to play any further role in an organisation, such as Open Britain, which is advocating campaigning against Conservative MPs or candidates. I and we will not be doing so. Nicky Morgan, Anna Soubry & Dominic Grieve”
By contrast, Change Britain – the Leave group set up after the referendum by Michael Gove and Gisela Stuart – is remaining neutral in the election:
“Change Britain will be standing aside during the election period. We are a genuine cross-party campaign and therefore do not believe it is our place to encourage the public to vote for certain candidates during a general election.”