UK elections and Brexit

Here my short review of the UK 2017 general election.

Results

Though May’s Conservative Party did manage to increase its popular vote by 5.5 percent point to 42 percent, the party lost its slim majority but with 318 seats, they remain the largest party. However, May did call this election in increase the Conservative majority in the House of Commons, this result is very disappointingly.

The Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn managed to increase its popular vote by 9,5 percent point to 40 percent – one of the best results for Labour since the 1970s. The part managed to win 362 seats, 30 more than in 2015. However, since the Northern Irish DUP rules out any cooperation with Corbyn – due to its past association with the IRA – Labour won’t be able to form even a government.

Other parties: SNP won 35 seats (see below), the LibDems 12 seats, the DUP 10 and Sinn Féin 7 seats, Plaid Cymru 3 seats and the Greens one seat.

Majority

Together with the DUP, which has won 10 seats, the Conservatives have a small majority – 328 out of 650. Whether May can remain prime minister, is to be seen.

The combined opposition has only 322 seats, which gives a working majority of 6 six. However, Sinn Féin has won 7 seat but since they refuse to swear allegiance to the Queen, they do not take their seats. This will increase the working majority to 13 seats.

Also the Speaker of the House does not vote, as he or she has to be neutral. My advise would be for the Conservatives and the DUP to support an opposition MP to become the next speaker. This would increase their working majority even further. I guess it would not be hard to find a Labour backbencher willing to serve as speaker.

Scotland

In 2015 the Scottish National Party (SNP) won 56 seats (out of 59 seats in Scotland), now they only get 35. Popular vote, however, the party still retained 37 percent of the popular vote in Scotland. Though the SNP did expect a loss of seats, as the 2015 result was unusually high, the loss of 21 seats is significant.

The result of this general election, will make a second independence referendum unlikely for the foreseeable future – for two reasons:

  1. The huge loss of the SNP undermines its support for holding such referendum
  2. The failure of the Conservatives to obtain a significant majority reduces the prospects of a hard Brexit.

Since the Conservative government depends on the DUP, which supports a soft Brexit, a hard Brexit is currently of the table. And without such a hard Brexit, there is no momentum for Scottish Independence.

However, the SNP might still a significant role in UK politics. As stated above, the Conservative-DUP majority is small and the Tories are very divided when it comes to Brexit and there is a substantial part of the party which would push for a hard Brexit. So May or her successor might turn to the SNP for support for the final Brexit deal.

SNP objectives for the coming years should be:

  • securing a soft Brexit deals with favorable conditions for Scotland (which voted for remain)
  • ensuring maximal devolution

Brexit

Since there is no majority in Parliament for a hard Brexit, a soft Brexit will be likely. Consequently calls for Scottish independence and Irish reunification will become mute and hence Brexit won´t lead to a break up of the United Kingdom. At least not in the near future.

In a hypothetical hard Brexit scenario we could have seen the dissolution of the United Kingdom followed by mass emigration of pro-EU Britons – probably to an independent Scotland or a United Ireland. For mundane science fiction writers like me, a soft Brexit would be not very exciting – but perhaps it is not as bad for the UK.

Fresh elections?

Not likely very soon but it depends on whether the Conservatives are able to get some consensus among themselves. As they continue their present infighting new elections will be inevitable, though those will quite probably result in a Labour landslide. Corbyn has only to sit and wait for the Conservatives to destroy themselves and to relaunch his campaign in case a new election has to be called.

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