UK Elections: Brexit And Rise of The Right Wing

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Rise of Right Wing

Over the past few years, there is growing discourse about the rise of the right-wing populism in the world and the consequences it will bear. Although the distinction between these political ideologies was first done during French Revolution (1789), the so called “rise” of these welfare-chauvinists began in the latter half of the twentieth century both in the Europe and the world over.

Much attention has been paid to the resurgence of the right wing parties, especially in the European countries like Switzerland, Poland, Belgium to name a few. The evident reasons can be the deterrent effect of the terrorism leading nations to follow protectionist policies or the detrimental effect small economies have been witnessing due to globalization which has led to the rise of the conservative parties in most of the developed countries of the world.

Whether and how effectively these right wing parties will deal with the problems of their countries and the world at large is the question we need to ask.

UK Elections

Snap Election

On 18th April Prime Minister of the United Kingdom declared snap polls in 650 constituencies across four countries, which were earlier scheduled in 2020, creating a situation of turmoil in UK’s polity. Many regarded May’s decision to call the elections a bid to strengthen her stand in Brexit negotiations with the European Union. What was thought to be the ‘master stroke’ couldn’t yield her a strong position, as indicated by the poll ratings that she could be on a course to win a landslide majority on a par with 1983 majority of 144 won by Margaret Thatcher. The results came as a big shock because the

Exit polls declared a landslide victory for the conservatives but the result was a hung parliament, no party winning a complete majority.

Although there was no complete majority for the Conservative Party, there still remains an ambiguity on the causes and consequences of the decision but the major reason which is quite apparent remains the Brexit negotiations. In an article, Dan Roberts of the Guardian states the reasons for the snap pools to be “May’s surprise decision to call another election was intended to raid deep into opposition Labour territory and bolster her narrow majority of MP’s in time for forthcoming Brexit negotiations”. Clearly, this action of the PM was uncalled-for and the conservatives have shot themselves in feet. The PM now finds herself in a situation which she wouldn’t have anticipated, her party could only manage to get 321 seats bring it down by 13 seats. The Labour Party on the other end has a plus thirty-one sign in front of their flag, Jeremy Corbyn is now the twitter of the town, not only he led a fantastic campaign, he managed to shift the debate to social issues. Apparently, people chose the songs of income redistribution and healthcare services over the story of “strong and stable” nation.

UK Elections

The Campaign

The headline of an article in the Independent read “Jeremy Corbyn goes from no-hoper to crowd-puller,” apparently the synopsis of the whole campaign led from both the ends. On the one hand, Theresa May called the elections when she was riding high in the opinion polls and was quite confident to gain a majority while on the other hand, the 68 years old peace campaigner from the Labour Party changed the whole scenario by promoting anti-capitalist policies.

A radical change in Britain’s fiscal policies: increasing corporate tax and public spending on education, healthcare etc. Among the other major changes was a 250 billion pounds fund for investment in infrastructure over a ten year period. Economists expect an increase in bond issuance, with the effect of increasing borrowing cost.

The other major issues apart from Brexit and fiscal changes are:

  • Security

Two major terrorist attacks took place during the campaign, with both the parties arguing about the best way to prevent such events. Conservatives majorly focused on global cooperation to tackle Islamist ideology and reducing the use of the Internet by terrorist groups. Corbyn criticized cuts in police numbers under the Conservative government and declared an increase in police recruitment.

  • Tuition fees

Labour is thought to have attracted a significant number of student voters with its pledge to abolish tuition fees and bring back student grants [Labour stuck in EU muddle as Jeremy Corbyn and colleagues fail to agree].

  • Scottish independence and the future of the UK

The proposed referendum on Scottish Independence was also thought to be one of the issues that will influence the elections.[Scottish parliament votes for second independence referendum]

The Results

Though the predictions and exit polls clearly indicated a Tory majority, the political analysts were still trying to figure out the ramifications that a hung parliament may produce or what might happen if the Conservative Party fails to acquire a clear majority in the coming polls. Many analysts suggested that the only option left with both the parties would be to lead a government without commanding a majority and depending on the opposition for advocating their stands on different issues including Brexit. After the declaration of results on 9th June, it was quite evident that there was no absolute majority for any party though the Labour Party had the last laugh with a substantial increase in their seats. The result gave rise to a new stalemate in the parliament. Failure to win an outright majority left May and Corbyn clambering to look for a partner for a new government. Incumbent PM has the right to take the first call for forming a coalition, though her firm stance on Brexit leaves very fewer chances of finding a suitable partner.

But the latest news confirms that the Conservative Party led by Theresa May will form a government with the support of the Democratic Unionists. She confirmed the decision after visiting the Buckingham Palace. She said, “only her party had the legitimacy to govern despite falling eight seats short of a majority”.[  Elections 2017, BBC News PM May promises to provide ‘certainty’,] DUP leaders stated that they will work in coordination to achieve the greater good and will explore the possibilities of bringing stability to the nation. After the confirmation PM declared the top five cabinet posts which included Defense Secretary, Chancellor etc.

The Impact On India

After the results were out there were many speculations about the India-UK ties because there were different opinions across the spectrum, for instance, Labour Party Leader has been a critic of Modi’s fiscal policies and has raised serious concerns about various humanitarian issues in India. Since the inception, the conservative party has a genuine desire for better relations. Even though the Conservative manifesto pledges to strengthen ties with “Commonwealth allies” and build a trading relationship with them but there have been some issues where the two countries are likely to be on the same page, immigration and refugee issues being some of them. The Labour Party might have had more inclination towards the humanitarian issues.

“The biggest potential detriment of bilateral relations is Britain’s future relationship with the EU, on which both the parties had different views”.

But now since the Conservatives will lead the Brexit negotiations the advantages of a hard and clean break from the EU will put the burden on Britain to establish better relations with India and other fast growing economies thus giving an upper edge to our country. Thus, there is a possibility that the newly elected Conservative-DUP led coalition will strengthen the ties with the UK and provide greater benefits.

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