Make no mistake: Farage won it for Johnson
Farage spent the rest of the campaign travelling predominantly to Labour leave seats, albeit to greatly diminished crowds compared to the big rallies seen earlier in the year. But while the shine had gone from the Brexit party, and it ended up winning no seats, its campaign has had a major impact on the election.
One of the early results of the election night, a Labour hold in Sunderland Central by 2,964 votes, was striking for the swing. Labour was down 13.4%, Conservatives up slightly by 2%, while the Brexit party had a swing of 11.6% from a standing start. When the first 10 seats were in, in mostly northern and Midlands seats, there was nearly a 10% drop for Labour, while the Conservatives were only up 2.1% and the Brexit party was scooping up a 6% swing.
In some places the Conservatives gained seats from Labour on modest swings, while the Brexit party got swings of more than 10%. In Don Valley, Caroline Flint’s 2017 majority of 5,169 appears to have been swallowed up by the Brexit party – which won 6,247 votes as the Tories took the seat. A similar dynamic appears to have taken place in Tony Blair’s former seat of Sedgefield.
Farage, whatever you think of him, was right. Many Labour leavers, who couldn’t bring themselves to vote Tory, did vote for the Brexit party.
Farage should stick around and take his time, build a strong party and hold Johnson accountable.