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The Telegraph
#1
Let’s Give Britain a Fighting Chance and Leave on March 29

William Croft, contender for the leadership of the Conservative Party, argues that the March 29 deadline is a make or break moment for the country.

Over the course of this campaign I’ve had the privilege of meeting people all across Britain, from all walks of life, all with issues that matter to them. It’s been by far the best part of this experience, and it’s reminded me why I started this campaign in the first place. Because from nearly every person I’ve spoken to, I’ve heard the same overarching concern: our country seems directionless, lost, and hopelessly paralysed.

So let me tell you what I told them. I promise you that I will work tirelessly for a deal that actually gets Brexit done by March 29, while simultaneously working to ensure we are prepared in the event no deal is reached. I am confident we can get a deal done, because I know our European friends want one just as badly as we do. Because if we leave without a deal, we’ll be taking our £39 billion in contributions with us.

I can also promise you, and am the only candidate prepared to do so, that I will delay this process no longer. Because the consequences of delaying Brexit any further are unacceptable. Here’s why.

The longer we delay, the more likely it is that Labour wrangles over control of the Brexit process. Every person who voted to leave the European Union, or simply who cares about democracy being respected, should be absolutely terrified at the prospect of a Corbynite Labour Prime Minister leading our departure from the EU. Both candidates for the Labour leadership have made it absolutely clear where they stand on Brexit. The date of departure will be delayed further, when a deal is reached it will keep Britain hopelessly trapped in a customs union of which we have no control over, and before the whole thing can end it must be approved by a confirmatory second referendum. If we leave Brexit in Labour’s hands, as delaying would, these past three years of paralysis and uncertainty will continue with no end in sight.

The longer we delay, the more people lose faith in our party, and more importantly, in our country. Millions of people voted to leave the EU because they felt let down by those in power, and delaying Brexit any further ensures they are let down once again. Our party has lost scores of members specifically because we have lacked the nerve and confidence to fight for a good deal and get the job done. Now, our critics and detractors are confident we will drop the ball yet again. I want to prove them wrong. To all those reading this who remain unsure of who to support, not just in this leadership election but in the eventual general election, I have this to say. If there is anything you can be sure about, it’s that a vote for me is a vote to get Brexit done on March 29. Come back to the Conservative Party, because I promise you, you have a champion in me.

The longer we delay,  the more time we waste ignoring the issues that truly matter to the working people of Britain. The next decade is fast approaching, and it should be a great one for Britain. And it can be, if we get Brexit done so that we’re able to unleash our country’s full potential and return our focus to the issues that matter to working people. Delaying only prevents us from unlocking access to new economic growth, the pent up investment waiting to enter Britain after this ordeal is over, and new trade relationships with countries around the globe. I want to move on to tackling crime by hiring 20,000 new police officers, protecting our NHS by building 40 new hospitals, and closing the opportunity gap by ensuring you keep more of your hard earned money. Britain’s best days are right around the corner, we just have to get there.

If we kick the can, we might as well kick the bucket. Time is on our side, and if we embrace a sense of urgency and a British can-do spirit, we will encourage our European friends to get serious and agree to a deal that truly honours the will of the people. Delaying further, a strategy that is totally dependent upon the EU, puts all of the power and leverage in Brussels. That doesn’t work for me, because it just doesn’t work for Britain. Let’s take back control, keep our promise to the British people, and get Brexit done on March 29.
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#2
A New Era Dawns, Who Can Profit?

Mrs May, Jeremy Corbyn, Mr Farron, and more besides are all gone. The electoral map of the UK has changed forever with the introduction of a group of Independents and the Brexit Party. In Scotland the SNP are losing their iron grip while Labour falter in parts of Wales and the Tories are in retreat across London and the metropolitan cities. Nobody can truly say where the next election is going to take our country but with a crack team of psephologists we are going to take a crack at it.

Obviously right now the situation is, to put none too fine a point on it, a mess. Nobody knows how to factor in Change UK or the Brexit Party with any degree of certainty but right now this is the range of results we would expect to see in a General Election:

Conservatives: 300-350
Labour: 210-240
SNP: 30-40
Liberal Democrats: 15-30
DUP: 8-10
Plaid: 3-5
Sinn Fein: 3/4
SDLP: 2/3
Green Party: 1/2
UUP: 0-2
Brexit Party: 1-5

As you can see the result should be a Conservative Plurality, if the people went to the polls today. But the wide discrepancy in seats reflects a number of unknown variables. While the Independent Group (Change UK irl) don't yet win any seats they are in the ballpark of costing the Tories seats to Labour, the Lib Dems, and even the Brexit Party. When you extract the possible results in each seat to try and find the most likely result in all 650 constituencies in the UK you come to this conclusion:

[Image: download.png?width=674&height=670]
(Credit to Rick)

Let's take a look at what is happening nation by nation:
England:
In England we are seeing a number of independent effects. The so-called red wall is under sustained and heavy attack on two fronts facing down against the Tories and the Brexit Party. Our best guestimations have the Conservative Party in the ballpark of within a 2pt swing from Bishop Auckland whilst the Brexit Party would most likely take Hartlepool if the local Labour candidate so much as sneezed incorrectly. The North West is equally dangerous for Labour with places like Blackpool South becoming very tight contests with the Tories. In all there are at least 40 seats at threat from a Tory/BXP pact where the Tory/BXP combined vote share exceeds (often by a lot) the vote share of the Labour incumbent. But all is not lost for Labour and the collective forces of the People's Vote campaign. With the notable exception of Dagenham and Rainham (where the Brexit Party can gain for a very modest swing) the Brexit backing parties are in full retreat with the Lib Dems making several gains in the capital and Labour often running up the middle where the two parties can't fight for a winner. Kingston and Surbiton is an excellent example of a place where the Lib Dems could make a gain but for a little more of a push with them less than 1% behind in a lot of methodologies, the same goes for Richmond Park which the Tories are currently favourites to retake. Labour meanwhile can look forward to potentially strong results in Bedford and the retaking of every single seat they lost to the Independent Group. The Green Party could be set for an historic night in Bristol West where current trends predict they could surpass the Labour Party and claim their second seat ever. Meanwhile the Brexit Party, as mentioned before, are on the cusp of a major breakthrough, if they can play their cards right. The by-election seat of Peterborough is currently a forecasted Tory hold in our model.

Scotland

Scotland has been held by the SNP in a sort of death grip since 2011 when they shocked the World to take a majority Government in Holyrood for the first time. They seem incredibly unlikely to repeat their stunning 2015 performance here with the party haemorrhaging support left right and centre including the loss of between 10 and 15 seats to the Conservative Party. The Tories for their part are building up good strength in the border and highland areas of the country and could be set to make more gains on the night. Our model had no idea how to map Gordon (an SNP/Lib/Con marginal) due to the presence of the former SNP leader, and independent MP, Alex Salmond suggesting that the SNP could be in trouble here also. The Lib Dems appear to be sweeping back into their traditional Scottish strongholds especially seats like Caithness, East Dunbartonshire, and Edinburgh West. It is however a rather mixed picture for the Labour Party. Our model, such that it is, currently predicts them only having 1 seat in Scotland and even that is under threat from the Tories who have surpassed the SNP for second place but there are a number of gains in the offing. Glasgow North East and Glasgow East both look enticing (especially as Glasgow East also has an ex-SNP independent incumbent), meanwhile Gordon Brown's old seat at Kirkcaldy needs only a very modest swing to return to the fold. Mr Reese and the SNP meanwhile are suffering from a full retreat with very little hope of taking any of the three seats that currently elude them, although with some positive numbers on the board they can start to limit their losses very quickly with very modest gains in polling.

Wales

Wales is an enigma for many as Labour's fall since 2015's national Wales result appears to be slowing their inroads into the areas they need to gain. Our model's current closest predicted result is the Tory defence of Cardiff North which could be decided by as little as 0.04% on current polling. Labour is also under threat in the north with Plaid Cymru currently looking likely to roll them back in Ynys Mon and the Tories making a concerted push in North East Wales, however as national Welsh polling improves for Wales we would expect to see the Tory inroads blunted somewhat and maybe even see Plaid dislodged from Ynys. The Tories for the most part are the exact inverse of the Labour Party, making higher than expected gains in North Wales whilst not taking the losses we would expect in the south, their main aim will no doubt be to shrink the gap further nationally to limit their liability for losses and extenuate their potential gains in the north. The Lib Dems are fighting a death or glory battle with Plaid Cymru in Ceredigion with Plaid sometimes as little as 1% behind, if they lose it then their best bet may be the by-election in Brecon and Radnorshire where the Tory bar of between 35 and 40% is looking very leapable with a People's Vote alliance which could be worth up to half the Tory total (9% CUK, 8% Plaid). However for the moment our model has the Brecon by-election down as another Tory Hold.

So what do the parties need to do to start to move the needle in their direction? The Conservative Party most definitely need to cut down on the gaffes, Harold Saxon may have redeemed his image in double quick time but many see some in the Tories (including the PM) to be a bit error-prone. An extension to Article 50 may not be the end of the World if Brexiteers believe that Croft, unlike the vision of May before him, doesn't want to do it but kind of has to. Labour meanwhile have to keep up the pressure, cracks have already begun to show in the Tory Party machinery and very small swings can generate pretty outsized seat shifts across the country. Whilst they should be mindful of the likes of Hartlepool and Bishop Auckland they most certainly need to pick a lane between People's Vote and Brexit if they are to avoid both sides picking Labour voters away and sending them plummeting even further down. The Liberal Democrats need to prove to people why we should care about them. Already this month Edith Granger has been out at the front on QT putting in show stealing performances whilst Caroline Blakesley tables People's Vote Amendments, the Lib Dems must avoid becoming a bit part player as they were in the Coalition to build a new voter coalition that can start to see them recover. The SNP likewise need to be seen to be at the front of the agenda and start to try and cannibalise Labour and Lib Dem voters north of the border whilst picking off Tories who put remaining in the EU above remaining in the UK. Plaid Cymru need to do the same, if they can wrestle Ceredigion off of the Lib Dems then they will achieve what many think to be the top of their ambitions but on much larger swings some more seats do become available for them to take. The Greens have a real opportunity to make a big stride in the World, our model has them on two seats but a well-placed PV alliance and some good growth between now and the election could see them take a third and maybe even a fourth. The Brexit Party and Independent Group have the same issue and the same solution, the best case scenario for both of them is undoubtedly that Brexit gets delayed and they can make it to the European Elections in double digit plus polling. The Brexit Party may well be ready to win the election outright but the Independent Group would at least be hoping to beat the Liberal Democrats and start boosting their profile. Both groups/parties would be well advised to pick a handful of target seats now and work them day and night to break the FPTP system and ensure that they can break through, couple that with a publicity boosting EU election result and maybe a BXP win in Peterborough and both parties can break through and surpass our model's expectations. Every party could use improved polls, but now more so than ever the polls can flatter to deceive.
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#3
“We trust there will be a good deal,” Juncker says.
[Image: GettyImages-674813502.jpg]

Jean-Claude Juncker has caused speculation and possibly boosted William Croft’s election bid by admitting that he trusted there would ‘be a good deal’ between the EU and the United Kingdom should the Conservatives be returned to government. He also praised Deputy Prime Minister Harold Saxon and Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay

“I have found many colleagues in the British cabinet capable and good to work with, especially Stephen Barclay and Harold Saxon. I hope to have a good relationship with them both now and as partners when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union,” he told reporters when quizzed if he believed the United Kingdom would leave with no deal should the Conservatives win the election. “We have worked before to get a good solution and we were almost there. For all of Europe to unite behind it, we will need tweaks so that it can work more in the European Union’s favour. But that should be more than achievable. We trust there will be a good deal.”

He went further, specifying: “I believe the deal we had would be a good blueprint. The Strabane solution in particular was a good compromise between the UK, Ireland and the European Union, ensuring all of our red lines were met so that we could move forward while respecting the Good Friday Agreement.”

Other EU leaders were more ambiguous in their statements, likely hesitant to be seen to endorse the Conservatives or any other political party going forwards – though all affirmed that they would work hard to ‘secure a deal with the United Kingdom that would be in the European Union’s best interests.’
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