By Joe Pike
Conservative politicians hoping to hold on to power in marginal seats in our region will be delighted and rather relieved at today's news.
Nigel Farage has said his Brexit Party will NOT field candidates in seats already held by the Tories.
That newly-rediscovered optimism from Conservative incumbents is simple: the pro-Brexit vote will not be split, the Tories will get the vast majority of Leavers, and they are therefore more likely to hold onto constituencies with slim majorities like Pudsey, Calder Valley, Mansfield and North East Derbyshire.
Some Conservative candidates are already using today's news as an opportunity to frame the election as a choice between Boris Johnson's Brexit deal and 'Corbyn's Labour candidate'. They claim it's a two horse race.
But our patch is packed full of Labour-held Leave-voting seats. Winning them is a key part of Boris Johnson's masterplan to secure a Commons majority. Key tory targets include:
- Lincolnshire: Grimsby, Lincoln and Scunthorpe.
- West Yorkshire: Dewsbury, Keighley, Wakefield.
- Nottinghamshire: Bassetlaw, Ashfield.
And today's news from Nigel Farage doesn't make it any easier for Boris Johnson to win those seats off Labour. Even though most people voted Leave in these Labour heartlands, by splitting the Brexit vote Labour could come through the middle and survive.
But don't be surprised if the Tories and Brexit Party come to some sort of arrangement and the Conservatives return the favour. Either by not contesting some seats, or by not campaigning in constituencies Nigel Farage's team have a better chance of winning.
In our area, almost half a million people voted for the Brexit Party at this year's European elections. So backing them again could be far less of a leap for former Labour voters than backing the Tories.