August 19, 2017

The political fallout from Brexit

 

Politically there has been huge amount of upheaval since the EU Referendum. David Cameron, after the ‘Remain’ vote was lost, stood down as Prime Minister and within few weeks we had new female Prime Minister, Theresa May. The Conservative party seems on the face of it to have united behind the new PM, and put aside their views on the EU. The debate within the Tory Party seems more about ‘when’ the Brexit will take place, rather than ‘if’ it will take place, and when the actual date of the UK formally leaving the EU will be. Though there are still many issues within the Tories between those who want a more right wing conservative party tough on law and order and those who are more in the centre and moderate, but these debates are more internal than external and the Tories appear to be much more united.

The Labour party has faced huge problems since the EU vote, not just with the leadership, but also with the grassroots of the party. The worry for the Labour Party is that in very strong Labour areas in North East England and in Wales, many voted to leave the EU. There is also the feeling from Labour MPs that Jeremy Corbyn didn’t make the case to stay in the EU with enough passion. Jeremy Corbyn’s problems are not just down to the EU vote but also down to the poor polling in the local elections, in which Labour only made a handful of gains, and also the poor polling in the pre-election polls, which put Labour on only 30 per cent. Many Labour MPs are worried about the impact UKIP is making on the Northern England seats. Seats which were very safe Labour seats have seen UKIP taking votes in large numbers and in many cases coming second. Though Corbyn has lost the support of most of his Labour MPs, he still has huge support from the party members. Owen Smith an unknown Labour MP and former Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, is challenging Corbyn for the leadership. Though he stands very little chances of winning, worryingly for many right wing and moderate Labour MPs is the fact that Corbyn could spilt the Labour party in a similar way in which the Labour Party spilt in the 1980s. When the SDP was formed. The EU vote opened a debate about which way the Labour is going,  does it go back to old school Socialist party values, or does it embrace the centre left ground and go down the path that Tony Blair took in the 1990s.

UKIP also faces a new task. UKIP’s main policy for the last 20 years has been to have an EU referendum and vote to leave. It has achieved both those things. Politically UKIP has made huge ground moves, making large gains at Local and European elections. UKIP also polled well in the General election winning over 3 million votes and coming second in many seats, though despite having over 3 million votes it only won one seat. Five years ago UKIP was posing a major threat to the Tories, now UKIP is a major threat to Labour safe seats. It’s debateable what sort of role UKIP will now have. It does tap into the voters and gains support from people who have either never voted or not voted in long time. Support for UKIP in the North of England is born out of frustration, thinking that the Labour party is not listening to the concerns of the working people. It will be interesting to see which way UKIP goes after Nigel Farage stands down.

Politically there has been a huge upheaval, with both the major political parties having seen huge amounts of change. How will the Brexit be negotiated? Will this be in the UK’s favour, meaning as little change to trade as possible and therefore boosting the Pound Sterling once more? Economically the UK has taken a ‘big hit’. Whatever happens over the next few months will be extremely interesting.

by Gregory Taylor

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