Great Britain Heads To The Polls To Break Brexit Deadlock

It feels like the Brexit impasse in Great Britain has been going on for years, and in some ways, it has. It’s been more than three and a half years since the UK went to the polls and decided – by the narrowest of margins – that it wanted to leave the European Union. David Cameron was the country’s Prime Minister back then. Since then, there’s been a General Election, Theresa May has been and gone, and Boris Johnson has come to power with a minority government. Perhaps because of all that inward-focused political wrangling, the country is no nearer to actually going ahead with Brexit. Like a cat that meows to be allowed out, it’s succeeded in getting the door opened but has done nothing since but sit and stare at it.

While both sides of the Brexit debate have dug their heels in and insisted that their way of handling the situation is the only way, business leaders in the country have reached the point of near despair. Any company within the UK that trades outside of its national borders has been unable to make concrete plans for the future ever since the referendum ended with a decision to leave, and they still can’t. They’ve been pleading for clarity since the days of Theresa May’s ineffective rule, but thus far have got none. That may finally be about to change.

The biggest fear of the country’s business and financial sectors was that the country would collapse out of the EU without any future trade agreement in place, and the resulting impact on exchange rates, the value of the pound, tariffs, and freedom to trade abroad would be devastating. That nightmarish scenario has for now – seemingly at least – been averted. When Boris Johnson came back from talks with the EU touting a new deal mere weeks ago, those same business leaders backed it. Unfortunately for them, the deal was seen as detrimental to Northern Ireland and was blocked by politicians sympathetic to or representing the country. Now, MPs have finally voted to end the impasse the only way they know how – calling a third general election in five years.

If the polls are to believed, this should be an easy victory for Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party. They enjoy a significant lead over Labour, and if reality reflects the polls by the time election night arrives on December 12th, Johnson and his party should have a large enough lead to enact any legislation they wish without interference from other parties. If Johnson wants his deal to pass Parliament, it will pass, and there will be nothing and nobody capable of stopping him. By now, though, we should all have learned to ignore the polls. The polls said that the Tories under May would win a landslide majority in 2017, but they didn’t. The polls said the UK would vote to stay in the European Union, and it didn’t. Even in the USA, the polls said that Donald Trump wouldn’t become President, and he did. Could history repeat itself yet again with this latest election?

The situation in the UK is perhaps even more complicated now than it was in 2017, and if we were to put money on the outcome, we’d still have some reservations about backing the Conservatives. Because of the number of variables involved, betting on the outcome of this particular poll is no more reliable than betting mobile slots on website like Rose Slots. That’s perhaps why mobile slots games with electoral or political themes have become popular in recent years; it’s entertainment reflecting reality. The most notable difference is that most mobile slots players are eventually happy with what they see on the reels, even if only for a fleeting moment. There may be no result capable of bringing an increasingly divided Great Britain back together.

Lynton Crosby expects Brexit will be the key issue at the ballot box, but there’s still no agreement within the country on whether Brexit should happen at all, and what it should look like if it does. There’s no sign that the 48% of people who voted to stay in the EU have changed their minds about doing so, and there may now be more voters that agree with them. Of those who want to leave, there’s a hard split between those who want to leave the EU gently with a deal in place and an agreement for a future close relationship, and those who want to completely sever ties and leave with no deal at all.

This is reflected at a political level by the parties that will be involved in the election campaign. The Brexit deal on the table might be Boris Johnson’s work, and Johnson may have been one of the most prominent figures in the campaign to leave the European Union, but he wasn’t the only notable figure. Nigel Farage was equally significant in that campaign, and his voice is still an important one to those who voted leave. Farage opposes Johnson’s deal as he feels it ties the country too closely to Europe. This is significant because Farage is now the leader of the Brexit Party.

If Farage and his party campaign for the same seats as Johnson and his party – which seems entirely likely – then the leave vote could be split. That would badly dilute the Conservative share, and allow Labour to grab more seats. The more seats Labour grab, the closer we get to a completely inconclusive hung Parliament with no overall control – and a bigger political mess than the one the country finds itself in already.

In the event of a hung Parliament, both the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Nationalist Party – likely to end up with 10-15 seats each – will have a vital role to play in what happens next. Both parties are opposed to leaving the European Union at all, and will campaign to revoke Article 50 and remain in the EU instead. It’s difficult to imagine any circumstances in which either party would prop up a Conservative government by forming a coalition with them. That opens up the prospect that they will choose to ally with Labour instead and therefore make Jeremy Corbyn Prime Minister.

Is that the most likely outcome, then? Possibly not. Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson seems to have a personal distaste for Corbyn and has previously insisted she would never ally with his party while he’s in charge. The SNP has also previously sworn never to stand shoulder to shoulder with Labour, although not in terms as absolute as the Liberal Democrats. Just because an alliance between the parties might form a majority doesn’t mean it would necessarily happen.

This latest attempt to break the Brexit deadlock is exactly that – an attempt. There’s no evidence that the attempt will be successful. It may even be more likely that the situation becomes less clear than ever before.


The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.