Politics Explained

Will Rwanda asylum deal win back Tory voters in time for May elections?

Offshoring humans has all the hallmarks of Johnson’s longtime election adviser, Lynton Crosby, writes Sean O’Grady

Thursday 14 April 2022 21:30
<p>Boris Johnson in Kent on Thursday, after announcing the government’s immigration deal</p>

Boris Johnson in Kent on Thursday, after announcing the government’s immigration deal

At first sight, it very much looks like Boris Johnson’s strategy for the council and devolved parliamentary elections on 5 May is to mobilise the “base”.

Turnout is traditionally lower in such elections, and disillusionment with the government is probably more widespread than committed voters switching to Labour or other opposition parties. If staying home is a half-hearted protest against the cost of living crisis, the spring statement and Partygate, then it can still do some damage to the Conservatives. More to the personal point, a truly awful result would pile on the pressure on worried Tory MPs to find themselves a more palatable leader.

The answer is to boil the blood of those who get wound up by refugees arriving on dinghies, and who are still waiting for the Brexit bonus they were promised back in 2016 – taking back control of borders. As Theresa May acknowledged shortly after the result, immigration was a driving force in the referendum and our politics, and it remains so. Indeed, it is the most divisive and powerful of the “culture war” issues the Tories look to when in times of trouble.

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