Theresa May’s snap election didn’t go entirely to plan. Much has changed, but not in the way most forecasted, with the Tories only to be saved from a hung parliament by the support of Northern Ireland’s DUP. Labour took seats across England, Scotland and Wales, whilst the Tories were saved by their gains north of the border.
But where are we now? The Gryphon’s Associate Editor, Dominic Johnson, gives a brief look at what has changed and what’s to come across the British political landscape.
Theresa May’s snap election looks like one of British politics’ biggest own goals of recent times. It would have been entirely possible to continue her premiership until 2020, reinforced by the lofty approval ratings that disintegrated after her campaign U-turns. With an overall loss of 12 MPs, only stemmed by a surprise revival in Scotland, the Tories will now have to rely on the DUP if it is to form a new government.
Will May stay on as Prime Minister? It’s difficult to say. The Conservatives aren’t sentimental and the likes of Anna Soubry have already started raising questions about the PM’s performance during the campaign. Nevertheless, it is worth noting Stephen Bush’s point that due to English votes for English laws, the Tories will still have a majority of 60 on English issues. But it is still a weaker and more vulnerable Tory government than before.
Labour: The Sultans of Swing
Labour may have lost, but it’s a brilliant defeat. Increasing both seat number and vote share, Corbyn has defied his own party’s private pessimism for this election. Gains in constituencies such as Canterbury, a Tory seat for one hundred years, epitomises their 35 seat increase across the country, often extending their majority in key marginals. Losing only 6 seats, Jeremy Corbyn is free to stay on to fight another election if he so desires. The PLP now has no choice but to get behind its previously reviled leader, and a leftist candidate will undoubtedly make the ballot if Corbyn decides not to fight on in the next election, whenever it may be.
— Dom (@domwjohnson) June 8, 2017
Lib Dems: Don’t Sit down ‘Cause I’ve Moved Your Chair
It’s been a bruising, but moderately successful, game of musical chairs for Tim Farron’s anti-Brexit Lib Dem’s. Losing five of their nine seats, yet gaining seven elsewhere, Jim Waterson points out that they almost have the makeup of a new party. Who knew? Sometimes it snows in Sheffield. Student millennial snowflakes have played the long game and finally wreaked revenge on Nick Clegg, displacing him from his Hallam seat in a Labour gain. Vince Cable is back in his Twickenham seat, with the Lib Dems enjoying moderate gains on their calamitous 2015 performance.
Iron Blu: Tory gains in Scotland give a surprise lifeline for May
The SNP’s formidable sweep of 56 of the 59 Scottish seats in 2015 has been trimmed notably by 21: 12 to the Tories, 6 to Labour and 3 to the Lib Dems. This showing has put IndyRef 2 firmly off the table for now, with the best Tory performance in Scotland for 30 years highlighting clear Unionist sentiment.
The loss of Angus Robertson and Alex Salmond mean the SNP are without an obvious leader in Westminster, and the story of Tory gains in Scotland may just have saved Theresa’s Weetabix.
UKIP: United Kingdom Implosion Party
Although perhaps expected, the UKIP capitulation in this election has been divided more evenly between the Tories and Labour than first thought, leading to an increase in both their vote shares. Paul Nuttall, former strike partner to Pele and revered Rhodes scholar, has resigned after they failed to gain a single seat. Farage is back in the spotlight, and it wouldn’t be the morning after a general election without him either resigning or retaking the leadership, or both. UKIP aren’t quite dead in the water, but they are without a single seat.
Ukip fantasist Paul Nuttall's quit. Presumably to resume his career as a ballerina in the Bokshoi ballet and centre forward for Liverpool
— Kevin Maguire (@Kevin_Maguire) June 9, 2017
What’s the overall outcome? It’s the DUP and the Tories – but they certainly won’t be calling it a rainbow coalition
Britain faces a simple and inescapable choice – stability and strong Government with me, or chaos with Ed Miliband: https://t.co/fmhcfTunbm
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) May 4, 2015
Oh, the irony. Remember the 2015 Tory election campaign poster with Ed Miliband in pocket of the SNP? It looks like May’s only route back into government is in cahoots with Northern Ireland’s DUP, a homophobic and climate change sceptic party.
The Democratic Unionist Party is one of the most extreme political entities in the UK and it has been in talks with the Tories over a deal since the Conservative Party Conference last year. It’s uncertain how stable this partnership will be, but its bitter irony for Jeremy Corbyn. Labour’s brilliant defeat will lead to a Conservative deal with a party that could not be more contrasting to Corbyn’s politics.
Never piss off wheat farmers in key marginals
— Martha Gill (@Martha_Gill) June 8, 2017