It is wet and windy up in Stoke and Copeland and by 4 a.m. on Friday morning one of several possible scenarios will be playing out. Guido takes you through your by-election scenarios…
Labour win, UKIP second, Tories third
If Gareth Snell holds Stoke for Labour then the man who once called Jeremy Corbyn an “IRA supporting friend of Hamas” will, ironically, have helped save Jez. He will have won a seat that has always been safely Labour. Defeat will see Paul Nuttall face criticism from UKIP’s Faragists – remember Farage last week piled on the pressure by saying Nuttall had to win. Jez will be safe…
Labour win, Tories second, UKIP third
If the Tories come ahead of UKIP then the Faragists will actively move against a humiliated Nuttall. Hillsborough, rightly or wrongly, will have damaged him beyond repair. UKIP could have their sixth change of leader in under two years.
Should Labour lose to UKIP, the PLP will be mutinous. Corbyn’s office will blame Tony Blair’s Brexit speech, accusing him of a deliberate act of sabotage. Corbyn will face huge pressure from the left to hand over to Rebecca Long-Bailey or Clive Lewis. Moderates will demand his resignation and discuss another leadership challenge. UKIP will have its second MP, Nuttall becoming a loud Brexiter in the Commons and a credible new voice for working class voters. UKIP will be on the verge of a mainstream tipping point…
Should the Tories come from nowhere to win, Corbyn could be toast. The realisation of a Tory one party state and a Scotland-style wipeout of Labour across England will dawn on the Corbynistas. Even Jezza’s closest allies will tell him his time is up. 25 year-old Jack Brereton will be the youngest Tory MP.
Tory victory in Copeland means Corbyn will face renewed calls to quit from Labour moderates. Owen Jones types will air further doubts about the Corbyn project. Eyes will be on Long-Bailey and Lewis. There will be talk of a summer leadership challenge. Corbyn’s views on the nuclear industry will have been key. Theresa May’s approach to Brexit will be emboldened. A Tory win is already priced in, this will not be a shock to SW1…
Labour victory against the odds means Corbyn is safe, or safer if Labour has lost Stoke. Fighting dirty on the NHS will have worked. Talk of a Tory takeover of Northern seats will be deemed premature. An ardent Remainer will have won in a big Leave constituency. May’s awkward visit, in which she failed to answer questions on local NHS services, will be a major embarrassment for Number 10.
You are kidding.
Stay with Guido for coverage during the day and through the night…