Joel Roberts is a Conservative activist in Camden
The country is once again facing an election with the UK still inside the European Union; that the Withdrawal Agreement hasn’t been passed before a national poll will likely vex many Conservatives situated in Remain-voting constituencies, chief among them our remaining few Members of Parliament inside London.
There is legitimate concern among London’s Tories about another ‘Brexit election’ after the failed attempt in 2017. That election saw the Party lose its majority nationally and in the capital results were near dire.
In Greater London we lost six constituencies outright while taking a severe haircut on majorities across the city: Chipping Barnet – a long-held safe seat – turned hyper marginal to a majority of just 353; in Finchley and Golders Green the 5000+ vote margin won in 2015 was more than halved, Harrow East’s majority was reduced by 3,000 votes down to 1,757; in Putney the Conservative majority went from over 10,000 to less than 2,000; in Westminster our lead was reduced to a little over 3000, the lowest since the seat was created in 1950 and in Iain Duncan-Smith’s Chingford and Wood Green the Party lost nearly 6,000 votes to bring it well within the realms of a swing seat.
Even in constituencies that didn’t turn marginal, Conservative majorities suffered: Chelsea & Fulham and Wimbledon where we lost nearly 8,000 and 7,000 votes respectively, serve as painful examples.
Add to these results the numbers of those who signed the petition to revoke A50 in London constituencies – which they did in their thousands and in some cases tens of thousands – and it is hard not to conclude that another general election predicated on the issue of Brexit would prove disastrous for many Tories inside the M25.
The concern for London may seem parochial but it should give pause for thought to all Conservatives for two interconnected reasons. First, every seat counts in an electoral landscape which hasn’t yielded a convincing majority for any Party since 2005 and not for the Conservatives since 1987. Secondly, one of the key factors that must be considered in seeking to solve this first issue, is how to appeal to voters both inside and out of the capital, rural and urban, market town and large city.
The Prime Minister has defied odds to bring back a deal from Brussels which deserves widespread support and clearly delivers on the result of the 2016 referendum but the Party shouldn’t rely solely on Leave voters to provide a majority in the Commons. Conservatives win elections when we appeal to a broad swathe of voters, so if we are to increase the number of our MPs on December 12th the Party needs to make an offer that goes beyond ‘getting Brexit done’ (notwithstanding the importance of this pledge).
The Prime Minister has stated on many occasions that he is a modernising/one-nation Tory, he was a popular Mayor of London who understood how to appeal to the city’s metropolitan voter base. In order to hold and potentially increase seats in London these political instincts of his must be communicated time and again and not least through our manifesto. Not doing so risks further diminishing Conservative Parliamentary representation in London and at worst, all-out defeat.