Brexit did not drive Conservative majority, says Justine Greening

By Kate Pounds
December 13 2019, 07.30

The domestic agenda dealt the Conservatives’ winning blow, according to ex-MP for Putney Justine Greening, despite many of their ‘gain’ seats coming from ‘Leave’ Labour constituencies.

‘Get Brexit Done’ rang throughout the Conservative campaign and, just weeks ago, Ms Greening said the Conservative Party was becoming the Brexit Party. 

At 10pm on election day, the exit poll predicted a convincing Conservative majority of 86 seats, including surprise swings from traditionally strong Labour areas such as Blyth Valley, Workington and Wrexham.

On the brink of the declaration of Newcastle upon Tyne Central, the election’s first result, Ms Greening spoke to Hugh Edwards on the BBC General Election programme. 

She said: “The reality is this election was about domestic agendas and I think that’s why the Conservatives have done so well. 

“Boris talked about the kind of Conservative agenda that many people find appealing – opportunity and social mobility, and opportunity in education. These are the things that really resonate with people. 

“Above all I think people just want to get on to a domestic agenda that is actually going to change lives on the ground. 

“Boris Johnson now has the chance to deliver on that, but also on Brexit.”

Ms Greening explained how she felt the domestic agenda unites leave and remain.

She said: “If you look at the issues that people were raising, Brexit was actually very low down. 

“I grew up in the strong Leave area of Rotherham, and I represented Putney, a 72.24% Remain constituency. 

“The thing that binds those two communities together is the lack of opportunity in Britain in the 21st Century. 

“ I think many constituencies voted Leave in the first place because they are fed up of feeling like they always come behind in a country that is moving forward.”

Ms Greening mentioned additional causes of the predicted result.

She said: “Boris Johnson was up against one of the worst Labour Party leaders that we have seen in a very long time. Boris couldn’t have had a better opponent in that respect.”

Ms Greening won four elections in Remain seat Putney between 2005 and 2017. 

At the election count, there was great speculation as to whether her long-standing but non-Conservative supporters would vote for her replacement -Conservative candidate Will Sweet – or Fleur Anderson, Labour’s candidate also backing Remain.

Mrs Anderson received 22,780 votes, winning a majority of 4,774, to earn Labour their first win in Putney since 2001.

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