CREDIT: DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/PA
Apolitical party aiming to fight a general election on an anti-Brexit platform would lose by as many as 150 seats, analysis suggests.
The High Court’s decision that Parliament must be allowed a vote before Article 50 can be triggered has complicated the government’s plans for Brexit and led to mounting calls for an early general election.
With Labour trailing the Conservatives by a large margin in recent polling, the prospect of an early general election has raised the possibility that a pro-EU party or a progressive alliance could have a chance of stopping Brexit.
However, a demographic analysis of the EU referendum results by political scientist Chris Hanretty shows that this idea is probably just wishful thinking.
He found that, had the EU referendum been carried out on a constituency level, then the Leave camp would have triumphed in 401 of 632 British constituencies.
Even assuming that all 18 Northern Irish constituencies had voted to remain in the EU, this would only give the Leave camp a total of 249 seats, 152 fewer than the Leave camp.
Back in June the UK voted to leave the European Union by a margin of fewer than four percentage points. But this apparently small margin fails to take into account the demographics of the UK’s parliamentary constituencies and the country’s first-past-the-post system of voting.
The UK’s 16.1 million remain voters are distributed in a way that would mean their influence would be lessened in a General Election.
In the same way that Ukip’s 3.9 million votes in 2015 resulted in just one parliamentary seat, 16.1 million Remain votes are very unlikely to translate into a general election victory for an anti-Brexit party.
In England an anti-Brexit party would have only secured 162 out of 533 seats based on the results of the EU referendum, while in Wales it would have won 11 of 40.
Scotland’s vote would, unsurprisingly, almost entirely have gone to an anti-Brexit party, with only one of its 59 constituencies – Banff and Buchan – opting to leave.
Of course, predicting how an ant-Brexit alliance would perform in an early general election isn’t as easy as mapping the results of the EU referendum onto parliamentary constituencies.
There would be more than two parties at play in a general election and this would split the vote in ways that would make such a party’s chances of victory hard to predict to any great degree of confidence.
However, based on the above analysis, it is easy to see that it would not be as straightforward as Leave’s small margin of victory would suggest.
Voting for the EU referendum was conducted in local council areas so the results do not automatically map to parliamentary constituencies.
Chris Hanretty’s analysis attempts to solve this dilemma by formulating an estimate for each constituency based on its demographic make-up.
We know which demographic factors were more likely to make a local authority vote leave, so by applying this to constituencies it is possible to predict whether their would be enough support for an anti-Brexit party to win a general election.
Tags: Article 50, Brexit, Britain, Chris Hanretty, conservatives, demographic analysis of the EU referendum results, demographic factors, Labour, Parliament, Pro-EU, pro-Leave parties, stopping Brexit, UK, UK voted to leave the European Union, UKIP