John Harris

Journalist & Author

The Tories now face a dilemma: change, or lose your new voters | John Harris

‘Get Brexit done’ will not be enough, and the demands of working-class leavers will jar with the party’s deepest beliefs

Its work has barely started, but the government led by Boris Johnson has already transformed British politics. It was all clear by 5am on 13 December, in that great swath of once-safe Labour seats taken by the Conservatives, crudely understood as being leave-supporting, post-industrial and largely working class: Bolsover, Bishop Auckland, Bridgend, Great Grimsby, Durham North West, Wakefield, Wrexham, Bassetlaw.

In the three weeks since they turned blue, there has been a lot of talk about how places so ill-served by Tory governments could have elected Conservative MPs, but that misses a crucial point. Our convoluted electoral system has long ensured that the most reliable way a place can get political attention is by being part of a marginal constituency. And however it has happened, all those seats that were once solid parts of Labour’s “red wall” have now pulled this off, propelling themselves to the heart of the national conversation.

Given the Tories’ responsibility for the dire inequalities of the last 40 years, the natural reaction might be to scoff

Related: We spent 10 years talking to people. Here’s what it taught us about Britain

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