We have been very quiet with our updates as the UK general election campaign runs its course. However, we cannot resist the opportunity to attempt to look into the future to see what the effects may be on Brexit and, as a consequence, Britain’s relationship with the European Union.
Polling for tomorrow’s election day is such that the outcome could either be a Conservative majority or a hung parliament. Despite a consistent lead in the polls for the Conservatives, albeit one that has narrowed somewhat recently, the outcome of the election is likely to be determined by around 50 constituencies where a small swing either way will determine which party wins those seats. Most of these are Conservative-Labour battlegrounds, but there a few Conservative-Liberal Democrat ones as well.
The Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn continues to make some small gains in the polls, but largely at the expense of the Liberal Democrats who are now unlikely to make any gains in Parliament tomorrow. Conversely, the Conservative Party has successfully managed to secure the majority of supporters that would have otherwise voted for the new Brexit Party and consequently tomorrow’s result will be mainly a two-party affair.
Our prediction is that there will indeed by a Conservative majority of around 25-30 seats. However, it is possible that there will be another hung Parliament with the Conservatives as the largest party. In that scenario, the numbers will make all of the difference and it is hard to see how the Conservatives could form another government without a willing partner. Could Labour form an alliance (either in coalition or on a confidence and supply basis) with the Scottish Nationalist Party? And at what cost? That would certainly require a commitment to a second referendum on Scottish independence. Would Labour also need the support of the Liberal Democrats? A party that not only would like a further referendum on the EU, but would also like another go at securing constitutional change to bring in proportional representation. Even if such a three-way agreement could be entered into, we doubt that it would last very long before becoming unworkable and even more challenges due to the operation of the UK’s Fixed Term Parliament Act. If Labour form a government, further delay to Brexit is guaranteed and the UK’s economy is likely to start to finally show the effects of this long period of uncertainty.
If the Conservatives win and manage to form a government with a working majority, the current Brexit Withdrawal Agreement would be quickly passed and the UK will start negotiating in earnest with the EU in relation to a future trade arrangement that would ostensibly commence on 1 January 2021. That’s a lot of work to be done in less than a year – practically it would need to be done within 9 months so that it could be ratified by other EU Member States.
A number of candidates are calling this the most important election in a generation – it almost certainly is!
For some more information on latest polling released this morning, click here.