#FactOfTheDay: The failure of Theresa May’s gamble and uncertainties over the future of Brexit
Thursday, on the 8th of June 2017, the British citizens elected their new MPs. Although she was holding an absolute majority, Theresa May moved forward in time this legislative election, in the hope of strengthening her position both in the United Kingdom and in front of Brussels. The outcome of this vote is everything Theresa May have feared: the Tories lost their absolute majority, leading to a hung parliament situation, and the Labour party made a notorious progression in the ballots. After a Friday morning of uncertainties, the conservative party managed to form a coalition with the DUP party, alliance many already question and suspect to be unstable.
What are the results of this elections?
Thursday morning, the headlines in the British press, right or left, all highlighted the shock this election provoked: « Exit poll shock for May » for The Guardian, « May’s gamble backfires » for the Daily Telegraph, « Britain on a knife edge » for the Daily Mail, or « Theresa Dismay » for The Sun. The results speak for themselves: the Tories lost 12 seats, and thus the majority, while the second main party, the Labour Party, won 31 seats. Theresa May is paying for a bad campaign, and a Brexit that is becoming more and more unpopular in the UK, while Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party, can finally regain in credibility and reunite the devided left-side of the political checkgame.
Results of the elections in graphics:
SOURCE: The Guardian
What are these results showing us?
Many see this election as a return to a two-party system. This can be illustrated by the results of two of the main non-traditionnal parties in the UK: UKIP has no seats at all, while SNP lost 19 seats. It’s also a revival of the Labour party, and more specifically of Jeremy Corbyn, who managed to present himself as the rightfull leader of the left wing. This election has also once again contradicted the polls, which all predicted a comfortable victory of the conservative party.
What are the next challenges for Theresa May now that she allied with the DUP party?
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is the largest party in northern Ireland. It is lead by Arlene Foster, a very controversial and though character. The DUP is an extremely conservative party, that for instance opposes same-sex marriage. Many of its members also deny climate change, and many are anti-abortion. Theresa May’s choice to ally with such an extremist party is already controversed, even within her own party: 60% of party members who responded to a survey on the ConservativeHome website think she should resign. Many already call this government a « government of chaos ». How Theresa May handles this coalition and her ability to negociate with her new associates on questions such as LGBT rights, welfare state, environmental laws and gender equality will determine the stability and coherence of this new government.
What are the possible impacts of this election on Brexit ?
SOURCE: First published on Caglecartoons.com, The Netherlands, June 9, 2017 | By Tom Janssen
These results greatly affect Theresa May’s credibility in Brussels : it turns out she shot herself in her own foot when wanting to strenghen her position in the negociations. Brexit negociations are now unlikely to begin in June, even though Brussels and Jeremy Corbyn are insisting on it, as Article 50 was already triggered. The minority government Theresa May is forming with the DUP is also a challenge : Arlene Foster, the DUP leader, is indeed keen to avoid a hard border with Ireland and has spoken against a « hard Brexit ». Nothern Ireland voted in majority to stay in the EU, although the DUP was for leaving. More than anything, Northern Ireland and the DUP also want to preserve an open-border policy with the Republic of Ireland. The UK’s position is thus now even more unclear than it was before, and the Uk might now stand for a soft Brexit instead of a hard one.
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First published on Caglecartoons.com, The Netherlands, June 9, 2017 | By Jos Collignon