United Kingdom’s early elections marked a significant setback for conservative party. And even more the electoral outcome represented a major failure for British prime minister Theresa May and is attempt to reinforce its popular mandate.
On the other hand, May’s electoral setback reinforced the European Union’s position that aim at forcing the UK to abandon London plans for a “hard Brexit”. Former British chancellor during previous David Cameron government, George Osborne, commented that her aim of leaving the EU single market and customs union could now be impossible. And according to the Guardian the so-called ‘Norway option’ – leaving EU but staying within single market – is regaining support in wake of UK’s poll result.
After obtaining 318 seats, more than any other party but 13 less than when she called the vote, Theresa May has been forced to strike a deal with the Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). And British prime minister’s attempts to form a government with support from DUP appeared to be taking longer than first thought. More than one week on, the country still remains in a state of uncertainty as the Conservative Party negotiates to put a government together.
For this reason Britain’s opposition Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn, said there could be another election this year or early in 2018 after the vote on Thursday produced no clear winner. But Corbyn and the Labour party, securing 262 seats on election day, is in any case the moral winner due to the largest increase obtained by its party. Corbyn offered during the electoral campaign something more than the rhetoric on security, fight against terrorism and Brexit.
Labour demanded a government that will serve the working class, rather than a little part of the population, based on the slogan “for the many, not the few”. Its demands included the nationalization of the country’s railroads, energy, water and mail services; full funding for the National Health Service; an increase in the minimum wage and free school meals for all children. The 127-page program, “For the Many, Not the Few,” became an important point especially for many young people in the UK. And this is maybe the less uncertain result of British elections.
On Brexit, Corbyn said he wanted “tariff-free access to the European market” and to maintain membership of key European agencies, as well as European Convention on Human Rights and European Court of Human Rights but he confirmed he would press ahead with leaving the EU if he became prime minister.
On the other hand May, that would probably succeed in forming a new government, insist on “Hard Brexit” even if she has lost the bet for a strong mandate. In this situation, even the EU is worried that uncertainty in London could delate negotiations. And this is the most probable outcome in the short period, rather than a surprising decision to abandon the outcome of June 2016 referendum by dropping Brexit. “I hope the result of the elections will have no major impact on the negotiations we are desperately waiting for,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president. “I hope we will not experience any further delay in the conclusion of these negotiations.” British officials insist that negotiations should start as planned from the end of June, but there are growing possibilities that on that date there will be no government yet. And in any case the big question is who Britain’s negotiators would be, and what approach they would take ?.
The UK has only until March 2019 to settle its divorce bill from the EU and negotiate its future trading relationship with the rest of Europe. And according to analyst, May is expected to remain in the role at least until the UK formally exits the European Union in 2019, as many consider a new prime minister would be a further “increase in political uncertainty by throwing the party into a new leadership contest. Political uncertainty is already high as the Brexit clock is ticking.”
- 1 July 2019
- 25 March 2019
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