2017, and one of the biggest issues on the political scene in the UK is Brexit. With the Government’s Brexit plan being scrutinised by Parliament and the Lords, the vote to leave the EU has raised a multitude of issues for the UK Political system. One of these issues is electability.
Brexit is seen as one of the biggest rejections of a political establishment in history, with people telling established politicians that they want change. Regardless what your view of Brexit is, you can’t deny that it was a crushing defeat for the establishment. This is where the question of electability starts, if the people rejected the establishment in a referendum, why wouldn’t they reject them in a General Election? This question has prompted political parties to scramble and portray a policy that resonates with public opinion.
As the Government, the Conservatives and Theresa May have made an attempt to do exactly this, they have seen the vote to leave as an overwhelming rejection of the EU, and a mandate for hard Brexit. There is obviously a fear that if a soft Brexit is pursued then it will not be popular with the public and harm their electability. They have therefore introduced a Brexit plan which proposes a hard Brexit, pulling Britain out of the Single Market. Labour seem to have followed the same path, as Corbyn told Labour MPs to support the Government’s Brexit plan it seems as if the Labour leadership is also attempting to resonate with the public.
This has all been interpreted as an attempt to win votes. The Conservatives are a largely Eurosceptic party and would like to stop some votes moving away from them, and Labour are attempting to gain back disenfranchised voters who have defected to the Eurosceptic UK Independence Party.
With the two biggest parties in the country seemingly just going along with Brexit, there is a large part of the country who are not being represented by these actions. Who will represent the 48% of the country who voted to remain in the European Union?
With the two major parties supporting hard Brexit it may end up with some remain voters being disenfranchised and without the support of Labour or the Conservatives, causing another party to gain the remain vote.
On of these parties could be the Liberal Democrats. Led by Tim Farron, this party is supporting remaining within the European Union. If Farron can give the Lib Dems an image of sincerity after the Tory/Liberal Coalition of 2010, and convey a genuine apology to the public then they may gain more support from remain voters and boost their vote share at the next General Election. However, it is possible that the Lib Dems credibility is low after the coalition, and this may stop people voting for them, although it is a possibility that their vote share will increase from the remain vote.
Now, to north of the border, Scotland, a nation where every single local authority area voted to Remain in the European Union. It is unlikely that the Liberal Democrats will be the remain voice in Scotland, considering in the last elections to Holyrood they were reduced to the 5th largest party by the Scottish Greens. Although the current governing party in Scotland, the Scottish National Party (SNP) supported a remain vote and after Brexit has been using it’s platform at both Westminster and Holyrood to voice Scotland’s pro-remain EU voice, and plans to heavily scrutinise any Government bill over Brexit. The SNP do hold the majority of Scottish Westminster seats, but only have a minority government in the Scottish Parliament. Regardless, they could attract the remain vote in Scotland. However, just because they support remain doesn’t mean that they are guaranteed the vote from Scottish remainers, the SNP are supporters of Scottish Independence, and it is speculated that they are going to push for a second referendum on Scottish Independence. This could very well take any Unionist remain voters away from the SNP and in support of another political party.
Then there is the status quo. Some remain voters may just vote for Labour and Conservative at the next election. Because Brexit is not the only thing that matters, these voters may support the domestic, foreign or economic policy of Labour and the Conservatives, and will vote based on that.
And then there is the possibility that those who voted remain will hold support no political party and not vote for any political parties, now it is likely that this will be a very small minority but is a possibility that could happen to these voters.
And now, I’m going to get hypothetical, I was reading an opinion column about the possibility of a new centre party, suggesting that the so called Blairite wing of Labour may tear away from Corbyn’s left-wing leadership, and remain supporting liberal Conservatives may split from May’s hard brexit plans. If these factions form a new political party of the centre ground, then they could easily take the remain vote, and plenty of votes from both Labour and the Conservatives. Now of course this is hypothetical, as there has been no such split.
Anyway, regardless of who the remain vote goes too, it is unclear in the current political climate to figure out who will support who at the next election. We will need to let further political events develop before any real conclusions can be made.