Everything you need to know about the election

The breakdown 

Big guns, secret weapons, liabilities and wildcards


Stanley Johnson, Rachel Johnson and Jo Johnson (Getty Images)

Big gun: Isaac Levido is the digital native protégé of Sir Lynton Crosby, the strategist behind the successful Tory general election campaign in 2015. Dominic Cummings has already handed Levido the reins, reassuring party aides that he is ‘100 times better at running campaigns than me’.

Secret weapon: Dilyn the dog because… well… everyone loves a dog, even Tory ones.

Liabilities: The rest of the Johnson family, who are more than willing to say exactly what they think about their brother or son, even if it isn’t exactly glowing praise.

Wildcard: Jacob Rees-Mogg, who seems to have been muzzled since his tone deaf Grenfell comments.


Jon Lansman, founder of the Momentum campaign group (Alamy Stock Photo)

Big guns: John McDonnell, shadow chancellor and by all accounts the man actually running the Labour Party, and Seumas Milne, Jeremy Corbyn’s director of communications and strategy. But reports of tensions between them could put Corbyn in the awkward position of picking sides. 

Secret weapon: Don’t let her entirely blank biography page on Labour’s website put you off — Rebecca Long-Bailey has been tipped as the next leader. 

Liability: Momentum — many centre-Left MPs are troubled by its far-Left views.  

Wildcard: Sadiq Khan will be one of his party’s big hitters, but if Corbyn’s campaign looks like it will cost him votes with Londoners, Khan could distance himself from the Labour leader.

Lib Dems

Anti-Brexit campaigner Steve Bray (Getty Images)

Big gun: Jo Swinson has become an electoral magnet for the most passionate of Remain voters, after unequivocally campaigning to ‘stop Brexit’.

Secret weapons: Former Labour frontbencher, Luciana Berger knows where the opposition keeps its skeletons.

Liability: Chuka Umunna has been in more parties than the Manners sisters, so could change his political stripes any moment…

Wildcard: Running as a first time Lib Dem candidate, Steve Bray is better known as ‘Mr No Brexit’ or the man dressed head-to-toe in EU blue and yellow protesting in the background of every news report from College Green. 

Hacking the election

Vote Leave, using data provided by a Canadian firm with ties to Cambridge Analytica’s parent company, used Facebook ads on an unprecedented level in UK politics. As a result, the campaign trail has changed forever, moving politicians away from our cul-de-sacs and into our smartphones. These are the cyber canvassing tactics each party is using to politicise your ‘funny cat video’ browsing marathons. ​

LABOUR: Team Corbyn has developed the digital campaign tool, Promote, which links to the voter database to help target individuals with a specific message. Labour has also turned to WhatsApp, which this year limited forwarding messages to more than five contacts at a time. However, Labour’s new ‘Cascade’ tool allows people to create links that can be shared en masse. Cascade was used to share the ‘Revoke Article 50’ petition, signed by more than six million people.

CONSERVATIVES: Social media experts Sean Topham and Ben Guerin helped Scott Morrison win May’s Australian general election. They use an evil-genius-level technique of making content so bad that opponents ridicule it on their own channels, inadvertently sharing it to bigger audiences. The pair produced a mash-up video of Sir Keir Starmer on Good Morning Britain which made it seem as though the MP couldn’t answer simple questions about his party’s Brexit strategy. The clip has been watched 1.1 million times. 

Monster mashed: Sir Keir Starmer

The Battle for Kensington 

It could be tense in one of the most hotly contested London seats

Labour’s Emma Dent Coad won her seat in 2017 with a majority of just 20 votes. But after years of infighting with the local council over how the Grenfell disaster was handled, her popularity will be tested. Her opponents — former Tory minister Sam Gyimah (now standing as Lib Dem) and local Conservative Felicity Buchan — are hot on her heels in the polls. And things have already turned nasty, with Dent Coat reporting Gyimah to the police after he claimed she had been ‘part of all the discussions that went on in terms of cladding’ at Grenfell. 

Other boroughs to watch: Richmond Park, where Lib Dem Sarah Olney is trying to unseat cabinet minister Zac Goldsmith. Cities of London and Westminster, with ardent Tory remainer Mark Field standing down, former local councillor Nickie Aiken (Conservative) is up against Chuka Umunna, who has left his Streatham Labour seat to fight here as a Lib Dem.

The five things people always get wrong about the polls by Sir John Curtice

 1. ‘How can they possibly be right? I don’t know anyone who has ever been polled’ 

‘There are more than 45 million people registered to vote in Britain. The typical poll interviews between 1,000 and 1,500 people — or less than 0.003% of the public. But statistical theory tells us that doesn’t matter. There is a good chance that a randomly selected group of a thousand voters will prove reasonably representative of the entire population.’

2. ‘Polling 10,000 people is 10 times more accurate than 1,000’

‘Polling is subject to the law of diminishing returns. A poll of 2,000 people is only a little more likely to be accurate than one of 1,000 — and a poll of 10,000 only a little more so again.’

 3. ‘Party A will win, as this poll puts it two points ahead’

‘Even a well conducted poll is going to have a margin of error — typically two or three points either way. So, if a poll puts a party only narrowly ahead of its opponents, it is far from certain that party is going to win. It is, at most, simply a narrow favourite to do so.’

 4. ‘Why do 1 per cent of people who voted Remain now back Brexit?’

‘Sometimes polls uncover a pattern of responses that seems incredible — such as someone who voted Leave in the 2016 referendum who says they would now vote for the Brexit Party. That makes some people ask, “Why so?” The answer could simply be that a few people ticked the wrong box on the survey!’

 5. ‘Well, nobody predicted Brexit, did they?’

‘During the campaign period, more polls put Leave ahead than Remain. Of the eight “final” polls, two put Leave ahead while six had Remain in front. Given the “margin of error” to which all polls are subject, that was a warning sign that the outcome was far from certain.’

Sir John Curtice is president of the British Polling Council

Fact checking the election so far, with Full Fact

TORY CLAIM: A three month extension to Brexit will cost £1bn a month.

REALITY: Under the Government’s withdrawal deal, the UK will continue to pay EU budget contributions until the end of 2020. This is part of the divorce bill. Payments during the extension to January 2020 simply come off the overall divorce bill. It is not true to say that the three month extension has come at an additional cost. 

LABOUR CLAIM: They’ll slash food standards to match those of the US, where what are called ‘acceptable levels’ of rat hairs in paprika and maggots in orange juice are allowed.

REALITY: This is a misrepresentation. The US Food and Drug Administration defines levels of contaminants in foodstuffs above which it automatically takes action. It can still take action if food is contaminated below those levels. There are currently no limits in the UK or EU.

BREXIT PARTY CLAIM: The European Court of Justice will be ‘the arbiter of disputes’ in a future UK-EU trade agreement.

REALITY: Nigel Farage said Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement means that, in any future UK-EU trade agreement, the ECJ would be the ultimate arbiter of disputes. Farage can’t know definitely what will happen under a future free trade agreement, because we don’t yet know exactly what a future deal would look like.

Thanks to Full Fact (



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