Unbelievably, it has been near a year since that shocking night last June that flipped British Politics on its head when the United Kingdom voted to leave the EU. Neither the government nor the Leave Campaign had any plan for this event, plunging the political system into chaos. I remember many of us Brits looking at the news every day, thinking it was the end of civilisation.
Well, the waters eventually settled and now over nine months later, where have the major parties taken their stands and how have they faired?
Prime Minster Theresa May signs the form for Article 50’s activation – BBC News, 2017.
The Conservative Party
Many of us saw Ex-Prime Minister David Cameron’s resignation coming, but many did not. Regardless, what no one saw was Theresa May’s momentous rise from maybe second favourite to replace him to the darling of the Right. As many have pointed out, Theresa May’s fast decision to not only embrace Brexit but also a so called “Hard Brexit,” and field an optimistic view of an independent Britain, has united the Conservative Party as they have not been united for decades. Theresa May’s strong leadership in what could have been a chaotic time has given her the support of a huge chunk of the nation. The Tories have been consistently polling above 40%.
The Labour Party
There is not much in the political world in a more sorry state than the Labour party. Jeremy Corbyn was never popular, but after a failed coup attempt in the immediate aftermath of Brexit, Labour’s polling figures began to tumble. Corbyn then had to make a choice between following the will of the people with a hard Brexit policy or following the will of the majority of the party and fighting it. He chose to go with the result. Unlike their rivals across the aisle, this decision has not affected Labour’s polling in any positive way. This is likely due to a lack of optimism or charisma of any sort from Corbyn’s end (is this opinion or fact? Evidence / supporting data would be nice) Labour are now polling at 25%, the lowest support for decades.
Jeremy Corbyn suffered a coup from Labour’s ‘soft left’ last summer – BBC News, 2016.
The Liberal Democrats
Unlike Labour, Tim Farron, leader of Britain’s traditional third party, has decided to lead his party less in opposition and more in open revolt against May’s policies. Becoming the voice of Remainers or ‘Remoaners’ as their opponents name them for reasonably solid reasons, is a risky move at best. The Liberal Democrats, though they have seen some resurgence in support, have given themselves a voter ceiling: a ceiling that, unless the economy starts to collapse with the start of Brexit, will get lower and lower by the day. Lib Dem support has risen from 7% to 10%.
The U.K. Independence Party
There is indeed not much in the political world in a more sorry state than the Labour Party, but UKIP are one of the rare exceptions (say in words that avoid opinion.) It has become increasingly unclear where UKIP go from here. Having achieved their ultimate goal and failed to win the working class vote in the Stoke by-election, both Nigel Farage and Douglas Carswell have abandoned ship and left unpopular Nuttall with what to do with the party’s dwindling support. UKIP polling has dropped from 15% to 11%.
Paul Nuttall suffered a humiliating defeat in his attempt to oust Labour in Stoke –BBC News, 2017.
The Greens have decided to swing a hard “remain” with most of their supporters. To nobody’s surprise, this has resulted in them remaining in a position of utter irrelevance for now, garnering around 4% on the poll.
The Scottish National Party
Firebrand leader Nicola Sturgeon, after a significant Scottish Remain vote contrasting the UK overall, has decided to continue the SNP’s ultimate goal of tearing Britain apart. However, you cannot doubt the competency of the SNP’s liberal vision for Scotland. They still rule the roost with just under 50% of Scottish people’s favour. Easily enough to keep them in power for the foreseeable future, and possibly enough to win an independence referendum.
Nicola Sturgeon meets with the Prime Minister to negotiate a second Scottish Independence Referendum – BBC News, 2017.
The parties have all experienced ups and downs since the Brexit vote. However, it seems that a clear pattern has emerged. The Conservatives are riding high, as are the SNP in Scotland. Everyone else is faltering. Why? Backing the right horse? An optimistic vision? This is something that needs to be explored in future.