As the UK prepares for its third general election in less than five years, Brexit remains a key issue in the country’s politics. Despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s claim that he would ‘rather be dead in a ditch’ than delay Brexit again, he had no choice in the end but to ask the European Union to extend the deadline to January 31st.
Johnson’s desire to hold a general election has come to pass, be it later than he had hoped, with the UK public set to hit the polling stations on December 12th. The election offers the chance for the Conservative Party to gain an outright majority, or for the Labour Party to make a dent in the current government’s position of power.
It’s going to be an intriguing battle, and there are sure to be plenty of headlines made before polling day comes around. But how important is Brexit to the prospects of each respective party? The Brexit date odds and betting have been unpredictable over the last couple of years and it is hoped that the election will at least bring an end to all the uncertainty. But let’s take a look at how the issue of Brexit could influence this election.
Boris Johnson’s deal
The Conservatives have promised to ‘get Brexit done’ – meaning that should they win the election and gain a majority, they will take the UK out of the EU with the deal Johnson agreed with Brussels in October. Of course, MPs voted to reject the deal in the House of Commons but if the Conservatives can win a majority in the election, and no longer require the support of the DUP, then they will be able to push the deal through parliament.
The ‘get Brexit done’ mantra may appeal to those who are fed up with all the uncertainty and speculation around Brexit – those who just want the whole ordeal over and done with. But not all Conservative voters chose to leave the EU, meaning that even loyal voters could be swayed because of Brexit in this election.
Labour promising a final vote
The Labour Party have committed to legislating for a final vote on Brexit if they win enough seats to form a government. They promise to offer the UK public the choice between ‘leaving with a sensible deal or to remain in the European Union’.
This will be an attractive idea to many voters of having the chance to influence a reversal of Brexit and for the country to stay in the EU. But with Labour winning 55 fewer seats than the Conservatives in the 2017 election, there is a mountain to climb to win a majority and form a government.
This could mean one of two things: that ‘Remainers’ who haven’t previously voted Labour may support them, or loyal Labour voters may cast their vote elsewhere with the opinion that the decision of leaving the EU was made three years ago.
Brexit vs other issues
Of course, Brexit is not the only front on which this election campaign is being fought. There are other major issues throughout the country that need addressing, including the future of the NHS, crime, education and immigration policy.
The Conservatives’ idea is that once Brexit is done and dusted, they will be in a better position to tackle these issues. They’re promising to give the NHS ‘its biggest cash boost in history’ something they have already started to action, as well as investing in schools and greater numbers of police. Labour are committed to increasing the minimum wage to £10 per hour for all workers, whilst investing heavily in schools and hospitals. They have also promised free broadband across the UK by nationalising part of British Telecoms (BT).
Polling suggests that much of the UK public consider Brexit to be the biggest issue facing the UK at the moment. But each party will be looking to make gains through their policies on other topics, which could make all the difference on the day of the election.