Campaign groups launch key seat strategy to oppose hard Brexit

The three largest grassroots pro-European organisations in the country – Open Britain, European Movement, and Britain for Europe – are today [Tuesday] launching a key seat strategy, where their volunteers who wish to get involved in the General Election will easily be able to find a constituency near them where they can campaign against hard Brexit.

The three organisations between them have around 600,000 supporters on their mailing lists, with individual contacts in almost every constituency. Those activists wanting to campaign against a hard Brexit will be mobilised to do so in constituencies in every nation and region of the UK. As a cross-party campaign, volunteers will be able to find key seats where they can help a Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat or Green candidate who opposes hard Brexit. They will be able to choose which local campaigns to join.

The three groups have today released their opening list of 40 key seats which they have identified as important in the 2017 General Election. The list will evolve and be added to as the campaign progresses and further key seats emerge. This opening list has been produced because of the demand from the thousands of activists who are keen to start campaigning and want to know where to focus their time and energy.

The 20/20 key seat strategy is divided into 20 constituencies where the incumbent is either supportive of hard Brexit or has not publicly opposed it and is being challenged by those who do; and 20 where the incumbent has consistently proven to be an outspoken opponent of hard Brexit since the referendum.

The precise nature of campaigning in each seat will be different, determined by factors specific to each constituency, but the groups’ activists are united in the collective motivation of ensuring that the Prime Minister does not have a blank cheque to pursue Brexit at any costs and in supporting candidates from all parties who oppose hard Brexit and who will provide proper scrutiny in Parliament as the Brexit negotiations proceed.

Alongside the key seat strategy, Open Britain will be running a national campaign during the General Election against hard Brexit.

Lord Mandelson, Open Britain Board Member, said:

“As a former European Trade Commissioner, I have seen such negotiations from the inside. For Britain to get the best possible trade deal, it is totally counter-productive for Theresa May to go into them with a rigid set of red lines.

“With millions of jobs at stake, she must explore all options to secure the continuity of Britain’s trade and investment in Europe.

“Election candidates of all parties should be demanding that a hard Brexit is rejected and making clear that they will reserve judgement on the outcome until they see whether we get exactly the same trade benefits, as David Davis has promised.

“Nobody has to take a position on this now: they just have to ask the right questions and keep an open mind about the answers.” 

Stephen Dorrell, European Movement Chair, said:

“This election is about something much bigger than party politics – it is about our future relationship with the rest of Europe.

“Pro-Europeans need to stand up and be counted between now and June 8th. The supporters of our organisations want to be know where they can make a difference in this campaign and we are providing the tools for them to be able to. 

“It is time for our activists to get behind all candidates, regardless of which political tradition they are from, if they are committed to opposing hard Brexit and willing to keep an open mind about the Brexit negotiations and the national interest.” 


Notes to editors

Open Britain, the European Movement and Britain for Europe will all register as non-party campaigners with the Electoral Commission for the 2017 General Election.

The Open Britain campaign, its staff and board members are not directing people to vote for specific individual candidates in this election. We are urging people to stand up against hard Brexit and guiding people who want to campaign on this vital issue as to how they can do so.

This is an opening list of 20/20 key seats. We intend to add to this list as the campaign develops and more information becomes available about where the real hard Brexit battlegrounds will be in this election. We will announce more key seats in due course, but we are being asked by our supporters now for direction about where to campaign immediately.

The key seats information will be available on the Open Britain website on Tuesday morning. There will be a tool on the homepage, which will allow activists to search by postcode for their nearest key seat, which they can then sign up to campaign in and find out how to get involved. 

The full 20/20 list will also be published on the Open Britain website. In the meantime, it is attached in a spreadsheet. The 20 current MPs listed in the ‘incumbent’ tab are being supported. In the ‘challenger’ tab, the challenger in second place will be supported in every instance apart from Vauxhall (where the Conservatives are second and the Liberal Democrat candidate will be supported). 

The details of the breakdown of the referendum results in individual constituencies have been taken from the work done by Dr Chris Hanretty from the University of East Anglia: 

The election results for 2015 have been taken from Wikipedia.