The UK Election Disaster

Theresa May called a “snap” election because she wanted to improve her majority as a basis for taking a “hard” line in the Brexit negotiations with the EU.  At the time of her decision, polls showed that the Conservatives would win ca. 20 more seats.  However, in politics things change very quickly and often unexpectedly.  From that moment unaccountably Jeremy Corbyn, whose views are anathema to most Jews and Israel supporters, began to gain support for the Labor Party.  Not only did he firm up his control over the party, but he published a popular manifesto, and he campaigned against a hard Brexit.  

Since the British voted for Brexit last year, many people have been having second thoughts.  Now, the young came out to vote and supported Labor and the pro-Brexit forces were depleted.  So this caused a major turn around from the Conservatives and the UKIP to Labor.  The election results show a 12 seat loss to the Conservatives and a total loss to UKIP, with a 31 seat improvement for Labor. The Conservatives are still the largest party, but Labor had the largest increase since the election of Tony Blair back in 1997.  

In the Parliament of 650 seats, a party needs 326 in order to have a majority.  Theresa May, who is currently remaining as PM, will have a minority Government of 318 seats. But, with the support of the Northern Ireland Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that has 10 seats, she can manage to get a majority.  At present there is no formal coalition agreement between the Conservatives and the DUP, but there will be an agreement or understanding.  

One other aspect of the election has been the surprising turn around in Scotland.  The Scottish National Party (SNP) lost 19 seats, but unexpectedly the Conservatives were the major recipients of these seats, while Labor, which had traditionally been strong in Scotland, did not gain much from this SNP loss.  So that means that Theresa May is now in a way dependent on support from both the Northern Ireland and Scottish constituencies.  May’s majority is not only very slender, she has to worry about opposition and defections from within her own Conservative Party, that has its pro-Brexit and anti-Brexit wings.  

So for May the election results are a disaster, instead of improving her electoral position she has significantly weakened it, and instead of Corbyn losing support he has gained significantly.  Although Labor does not appear to be able to form a Government with 261 seats, this leaves May terribly weakened at precisely the time she needs and wanted greater support.  Her time as PM cannot be very long, and the Brexit negotiations with the EU are definitely in peril.  As a result of these results the British pound tumbled again in the markets and it shows that the British public is adept at shooting itself in the foot.