After promising there wouldn’t be a General Election before Brexit took effect and apparently ignoring the “5 year term” for UK Parliaments, our current leader Theresa May has decided to “go to the country”. It’s an important step for her as one of the key criticisms facing her Government is they have no electoral mandate for their approach to Brexit. Now their approach has to be laid before the voting masses for all to see and vote on.
Given past problems with polls I figured I’d dive into the election process and offer my own take on what happens next…
I’m calling a hung parliament. The Conservatives will be the largest party, but will not have enough seats to command a majority in the House of Commons. Given the past disasters with coalitions not only do I think Theresa May won’t be able to find a partner willing to prop up a minority Tory party, I also think no one will be willing to support her as there is more power to be had staying away from joining a Tory coalition and instead marshalling from the outside. The memory of Nick Clegg will also be in people’s minds.
One possibility we could see is a genuine coalition government fronted by Labour and supported by SNP and Sinn Fein. Both of these minor parties have experience working in coalitions as both Scotland and Northern Ireland have run this way for some time, so could make the possibility of a minority Labour Government a reality. What follows could be fascinating as the price for support from the SNP will be an independent referendum, and could Sinn Fein ask for the same in Northern Ireland?
No matter who “wins” the election they won’t have a clear electoral mandate. I’m expecting to see a fairly even spread of votes across the country, regardless of who wins. So while the dominant party might claim victory they will not carry the country with them.
In fighting, squabbles, a former leader who can’t step away and a current leader without a clear policy direction could see UKIP attract a large number of votes, but spread so thinly to make it ineffective. Don’t expect to see UKIP with an MP in June.
The question is whether heavy weights in the political left and right will be voted out. I’m expecting Boris Johnson and Michael Gove to take a particular hammering in their constituencies and I expect Boris to lose his seat. Theresa May is likely to be returned, but anything less than a parliamentary majority and I suspect there will be a new leadership challenge.
On the left Corbyn is probably safe, as is Diane Abbott, provided they offer a clear message about their intentions on Brexit.
Whatever happens a couple of demographic changes are likely to hit. The first is the election will allow EU nationals who reside here, but were denied participation in the referendum to have their say. The second is a shift in the age of the voting population with around 200,000 Brexit voters believed to have died due to old age, and about the same number of younger, more likely to vote Remain people coming onto the electoral rolls.
However, the election is taking place right in the middle of exam season, so that could have an impact. And we may not see the high turnout we saw for the referendum.
I know there are a lot of problems in the country at the moment to do with public services, taxation, support for overseas aid, Syria, refugees and so on. I don’t expect these to feature too highly on people’s minds other than to reinforce their views.
The two major parties are still divided over Europe, while the minority parties seem to be pretty much aligned. No matter what the outcome of the election is expect arguments over the European Union to continue and each side of the Brexit debate to claim victory or a travesty of democracy.
Either way, it’s going to be fun watching this all unfold.
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