How to vote tactically if you’re a remainer? Any candidate against Brexit

Oliver Miles
‘If it means I have to vote Lib Dem, or Green, or for one of the nationalist parties, or even independent, or Monster Raving Loony, so be it.’ Photograph: Dinendra Haria/Rex/Shutterstock

This general election is unusual. In form it is like other elections, with all serious candidates identifying themselves with a party. But in reality it is about Brexit. So how should remainers vote?

Both the main parties will include some candidates who are for it and some against it. So it doesn’t make sense to decide to vote Tory or Labour without first establishing whether the candidate one would be voting for is for or against Brexit. Some voters who normally vote Tory or Labour will be frustrated because the candidates of both parties seeking their votes are on the same side.

I do not subscribe to the cynical view of politicians. I think most of them do their best to serve their country and their party. I accept that sometimes they have to compromise and put party first. But not on this issue, probably the most important on which parliament has had to decide in my lifetime, and I am 81. I was therefore shocked by the vote in the House of Commons on 8 February, when parliament in effect told the prime minister she could carry on steering the ship of state towards the iceberg. I am not thinking here of convinced leavers – I don’t agree with them but I respect their views. I am thinking of remainers – was there really only one in the Conservative party and 52 (out of 229) in Labour?

The remainer MPs who voted for the prime minister would argue that they had to respect the decision of the people taken in the referendum. That is cant; the people were divided and probably still are. Most people on both sides believe that the referendum result was corrupted by outrageous lies. My own view is that the lies told by the leavers – remember that bus, the £350m per week saved in Brussels to be spent on the NHS, Turkey about to join the EU? – were the most outrageous, but leavers are free to argue the contrary.

Members of parliament have to make their own judgment about what is best for the country and have the courage to stand up for it. They have to lead, not be led, even if that means going against the wishes of Rupert Murdoch and Viscount Rothermere – “enemies of the people”, “crush the saboteurs” – their national party leadership, their local party or their constituents. We the people are free to vote on a whim, and often do. We are free nowadays to use the social media to make snap judgments and abuse those who disagree with us – some troll rat enjoys calling Gina Miller “a piece of meat”. But MPs have the opportunity, the resources and the duty to study, research and discuss the big issues before they cast their votes, and to vote according to their judgment, subject only to the knowledge that if in the end we do not like what they do we will throw them out.

Elections are unpredictable, this one perhaps especially so. The danger is that if it is fought more or less on the usual party lines it will be irrelevant. We will end up with a stronger or weaker government still heading for the iceberg.

As a convinced remainer, how should I decide how to vote? I propose to ask everyone who comes to my doorstep whether he/she will support at least remaining in the single market, with some freedom of movement within Europe, and preferably finding a way to remain in the European Union. If the answer is no, he/she will not get my vote. If that means I have to vote Lib Dem, or Green, or for one of the nationalist parties, or even independent, or Monster Raving Loony, so be it. If Gina Miller’s tactical voting initiative takes off, as I hope it will, candidates will be expecting my question and had better have their answer ready.

If other remainers, something like half the population, were to follow my example (and leavers are welcome to do the same) this election might do something more useful than tell our helmswoman to go full speed ahead on a course she did not choose.

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