UK at its turning point: the bargaining power of a hung democracy

External Relations

Last week the UK voters expressed their preferences leading the country to a new phase of its recent political history. Those recent elections in the United Kingdom should have represented a political success for the Conservative Party of Mrs May, anyway something went wrong.

Therefore Prime Minister May called for general elections in order to strengthen the Conservative political consensus. On the contrary, during those elections it was the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn to succeed – although not in electoral terms.

Thus, the United Kingdom will face major issues concerning a so-called “hung parliament”, or in other words, a Parliament without a clear majority. Though, it is surprising that this electoral result is exactly the opposite of what UK citizens really need: a government with a strong and stable mandate.

A strong government with clear ideas would have been appreciated due to the challenging political period the UK is going through these days.

The UK is going to negotiate the formal exit from the European Union – a very delicate process, never activated before – and did manage the tragedy of the terrorists attacks of the last three months.

Conservatives gained 318 seats, while the Labour Party got 262. At the end of the day, Mme May lost 13 people sitting in the Chamber, a heavy blow for a party which wanted to gain more power within the institution. In particular, the Conservatives lost the majority as well (even though with a better result than the one of the first elections of Mr Cameron, in 2010).

The other side of the coin represents a great result for the Labour Party, considering the low expectations – just a few days ago they majored in polls 20 points under the Conservatives. They will continue to be a minority in the Parliament though, collaborating as mere opposition.


Europeans’ eyes are focused on the political aftermath in UK and the effect of this result on Brexit negotiations.

A first clear consequence of the entire story is that Theresa May, today, is politically even more fragile. Even if she will keep the role of Prime Minister and leader of Conservatives, her political position has been damaged, and she will have a hard time both within the Parliament and the Party. Then, reactions of Euro-enthusiasts will be divided by the UKIP side-story. UKIP went really bad in these elections. The far-right independentist party which firmly lobbied for a referendum on Brexit took less than 2% of votes, so that they are not even able to guarantee a seat to that single MP who was elected in 2015.

Labour and Conservatives have different opinions about Brexit: Conservatives and the Prime Minister herself back the “hard Brexit” option, meaning to leave the European Union without the ambition to save any sort of “special relationship” with the world’s biggest commercial block. Anyway, the recent electoral results might edulcorate this original version of the process. Labourists do not call into question the historical referendum outcome and endorse a “lighter” version of the exit process: they suggest to stay in the Single Market, providing a broader range of civil and political rights to EU citizens settled in UK. As for Brexit, one should consider that the EU official position has always been closer to the Conservatives’ version of the process, rather than supporting a “light” menu to this leaving country.

In line with the liberal doctrine of International Relations, a weaker or unstable government should rely on sufficiently stable institutions in order to make it possible for the weak government to negotiate favourable deals and protect its own citizens.

The passage from the EU to the WTO framework is an option that professionals have been studying for four years.

Contained in the Chamber library’s catalogue, these studies were part of the policies of the former PM Cameron. He was the first PM to ask for findings and figures showing the pros and cons of being a member of the EU. He wanted to highlight how the benefits of being part of the European integration were much higher than disadvantages. The last resort in order to avoid the famous referendum’s result.

In the document called “The economic impact of EU membership on the UK” authors underlined that a broad range of agreements might have resulted from the London’s exit from the EU. In this context, the WTO model is considered to one-best-choice, in particular because it is a safe system. WTO already provides a range of rules, principles and standards, while not imposing to members to extend this list of regulations

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