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Come what May: An outsider’s perspective on the 2017 UK snap elections by Jorn Moeskops

Monday, May 15, 2017

 

My apologies if my message isn’t more upbeat to begin with. I am a foreigner, and I have only been living in the UK for the last year and a bit. Brexit took me by surprise, like for the many who were surprised to learn what Brexit really implies after the referendum.

In the day of post-truth politics, I believe it is warranted to vent my subjective opinion in a necessarily unexaggerated manner, to fit in with a passable phlegmatic English custom. Of course, this should be taken with a grain of salt, as I will retain the right to take a diametrically opposite opinion over the course of the next two days, in the face of new information. That mentioned, I believe the following is going on with the 2017 snap elections in the UK.

Why the conservatives will win by a significant majority

Traditional Labour voters have more faith in Ms Theresa May, the current prime minister and leader of the Conservatives, than they do in Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader.

Then, as it was already difficult enough, we wouldn’t want to start asking questions about who would negotiate the Brexit if Labour were to take over power.

Also, with Boris Johnson (Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs), David Davis (Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union), Liam Fox (Secretary of State for International Trade), and perhaps Theresa May – to keep the view of currently involved actors in the negotiation simple - already somewhat confused over who holds competence over what part of the negotiations, there is no doubt the general population will feel there is a need to complicate things by opening the window for another party to take over.

Following a similar logic, i.e. that of group think, the Liberal Democrats aren’t going to score very well either. What I mean by that is that people have been sufficiently propagandized and habituated to the idea that ‘Brexit means Brexit’ that there is no way back (as the Liberal Democrats propose), and since the main topic of this election will be the Brexit, I see little scope for the Lib Dems to score points in other fields. Tony Blair, on his own will never win a place in politics strong enough to turn the tide, and again, won’t make much of a difference either. Of course, history has seen many surprises, and I could personally not be proven happier if I were to be shown wrong on this.

Furthermore, another reason why Labour will lose in the elections is that the polls have shown that a majority of 60 percent would not be in favor of unilaterally guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens in the UK in the Brexit negotiations, i.e. they would not support this campaign point of the Labour party. Here the Conservatives take a more pragmatic approach. Slightly creepy of course to think of the potential implications of not guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens, but hey let’s assume politicians and UK citizens are all rational people.

A divided party will deliver an undivided outcome

Last time I checked, the Conservative Party was rather divided. Without a candidate list, it will be rather difficult to tell which people will be higher on the list and which lower. One can count on having pro-Brexit people with a particular predilection for the execution of the 12 key points of the government’s whitepaper ‘The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union’ high on the list. 

It also appears that the number of Conservatives that have stepped down for re-election was predominantly pro-European. There may thus be good reason to believe that it will be somewhat easier or less difficult, however one prefers, for Theresa May to bring a clear party line to the Brexit negotiations. Then again, the glaring hope that now the power will be to the British people in the negotiations will obviously still stay remote, both because internal party divisions do not simply disappear over elections, and because the balance of power with the EU is only to a very minor extent dependent on the unity within the UK government. Yet again, it all depends as well on how the message will be sold. A final deal with a broader Conservative party in the Parliament will in any case be easier to find support for. The future will tell what the outcome will be, but I will already say, come what May!

About Jorn

Jorn MoeskopsJorn Moeskops was educated in the Netherlands and Belgium, studying psychology, religion, economics and European Politics. 

In recent years he worked in a variety of capacities related to the EU. 

He has published articles on online forums on matters related to several policy fields. 

Currently his interest centres around Brexit as well as global data protection. 




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