General Election: The “Get Brexit Done” election

The shape of the new parliament won’t be known until at least the first exit polls on Thursday night. However, with the usual caveats, current polls are suggesting a Conservative majority, albeit with a slimmer margin of victory than was predicted a couple of weeks ago.

If Boris Johnson does emerge victorious, he will have one slogan to thank: “Get Brexit Done”.

The Conservatives were always going to make this election about Brexit. The Labour Party has done all it can to turn attention to domestic issues, primarily the NHS. From press conferences unveiling unredacted government documents about trade talks with the US, to a constant barrage of social media ads highlighting the strains under which the health service is operating.

But the reality is that the only slogan that most of us will remember when this campaign is a distant memory is, “Get Brexit Done”.

Boris Johnson and his team appear to have taken a low risk approach to this campaign. They have avoided an interview with Andrew Neil, limited public events, steered clear of mass leader debates, and published a short manifesto, allowing little room for misstep.

Instead, in an effort to gain seats from Labour, the Prime Minister has lasered in on the issue that he knew would undermine the foundations of the so called ‘Red Wall’; the swathe of northern, traditional Labour constituencies that voted overwhelmingly for Brexit in 2016.

After decades of neglect (whether perceived or real) these voters see Brexit as the chance for a new start, as the embodiment of their concerns finally being heard. They see Johnson as the man who could deliver it, while Jeremy Corbyn’s and Labour’s pledge for a second referendum is viewed with hostility. It would appear that traditional party loyalties are beginning to melt away in the face of a seemingly binary Brexit choice.

By contrast, Labour has focused on domestic policy. Over the last month they have unveiled a radical programme for government, designed to win over marginalised voters who have been hardest hit by austerity. But these voters appear to no longer believe in the transformative effect of big policy or government. If anything, when they have seen so little change before, a radical programme seems to create even more scepticism – if previous governments could not deliver on a modest agenda, why would someone believe a radical programme is a realistic prospect?

Combined with a deep mistrust of Jeremy Corbyn as a potential prime minister, Boris Johnson’s simple offering seems to be proving too tempting, too realistic and too tangible, to resist.

“Get Brexit Done” has become a rallying call to committed Brexiteer Conservatives. But more importantly, at the time of writing, it has become a cry of hope to disaffected Labour voters.

And it is their votes that will likely decide this election.

Written by Jamie Slavin, Senior Account Director, Corporate & Business Communications

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