Brexit means…

Extrapolating from UK by-elections to a general election result is always a dodgy proposition, but we have seen two in short order so I’m going to stick my neck out.

In Richmond Park, a constituency that voted solidly to remain in the EU, the unambiguously pro-remain Lib Dem candidate trounced the Brexit supporting Tory. And no-one was fooled by Zac Goldsmith’s pseudo-independence.

In Sleaford and North Hykeham, a constituency that voted to leave, the pro-leave Conservative candidate comfortably won, beating UKIP into a distant second.

Both by elections centred on the Brexit vote and the government’s response, and this clearly remains a live issue for many voters. In constituencies in which the remain vote was strong, voters are turning to the Lib Dems as the only unambiguously pro-EU party. In pro-leave constituencies, voters are not buying UKIP’s accusations of the government backsliding on Brexit, and are continuing to back the Tories.

It would be foolish to try and make a general election prediction based on two by elections. But the one thing that has become clear is that when Theresa May says “Brexit means Brexit”, what she means is that Labour’s slide into irrelevance can only accelerate.

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