The problems with the Conservative Party’s new Euro elections video

“There’s a lot of things that people aren’t telling you about Brexit,” the new Tory campaign video, tweeted just this afternoon, tells its viewers. Voting for other parties “won’t get Brexit across the line”, Conservative MEP candidate Suzanne Webb goes on to explain. “These elections won’t change our MPs in parliament and groups like The Brexit Party can’t deliver Brexit.”

This patronising start assumes the electorate is unaware that MEPs sit in the European parliament and cannot vote for Theresa May’s deal. The British public may not follow the ins and outs of every Brexit amendment vote, every twist and turn of the Tory leadership battle or every policy failing of Chris Grayling (who can keep up?) – but to suggest they can’t tell the difference between an MP and an MEP displays contempt for anyone outside of the Westminster bubble.

Let’s pause here to note that: a) substantial numbers of Tory to Brexit Party switchers want no deal, and don’t blame the Brexit impasse on those MPs refusing to voting for May’s deal because they see it as too soft; and b) one likely reason many of those voters opted to Leave in 2016 is because they regard European elections as inconsequential or deliberately obscure and know full well that MEPs are not legislators in the UK parliament.

b) is what makes this vote, in the eyes of many, the perfect opportunity to register discontent without having to think about whether the result will give Corbyn or May the keys to No10. These protest votes are designed to send a message, and influence the actions of MPs through that message. It is an understandable approach – particularly when few are making the argument that the result of these European elections matters not because of what it says about UK party positions on Brexit, but because it changes things in Europe.

The second part of the Tory message then contradicts the first. “The only party standing in these elections that will actually deliver Brexit is the Conservative Party… If you want Brexit delivered as soon as possible, vote Conservative.” Hang on, have I missed something? Didn’t Suzanne just helpfully inform us that these elections do not produce representatives who can deliver Brexit?

All in all, an inadvisable broadcast in every sense.

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