Assuming the bill passes the Lords today, we’re set for a 12 December “people v parliament” election. Here’s a quick summary of a few of the current talking points.
Only 43 sleeps until Christmas (election)
After months of building expectations, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has finally got the snap election he wanted to break the Brexit deadlock. Britain goes to the polls on 12 December, the first December election in nearly 100 years. The election bill is expected to undergo all stages in the House of Lords today. Assuming no peers try and derail it, the date will be confirmed this evening.
What Boris Johnson has said
The Prime Minister told journalists last night: “It’s time for the country to come together and go forward. It will be a tough election but we will do the best we can.” For someone who’s usually more optimistic in his tone and manner, it was not the most rousing of statements. But the Tories have been here before. In 2017, Theresa May was on course for a huge majority only for the voters to return a hung Parliament.
What to expect
From the Conservatives, expect a Brexit dominated election which sets the “People vs Parliament”. This is the story that No.10 have been honing over the last few months.
However, for the Tories to gain a majority they need to win over many Labour voting seats in the Midlands and the North, especially given the more remain leaning seats they expect to lose in London, the South and Scotland. To win over these areas, alongside promising to “Get Brexit done”, the Conservatives will open the taps and splash the cash. The election manifesto will emphasise more money for the NHS, education and the police – voters three biggest worries after Brexit.
A huge gamble
Despite the polls looking favourable for Boris, an election is still a huge gamble. With more than four parties (Conservative, Labour, Lib Dem, Brexit and SNP) vying for votes, it really could go any way.
If Labour can move the narrative onto domestic issues they may do better than expected. Jeremy Corbyn, Labour’s leaders, thinks it’s “going to be fun”. The Lib Dems are doing well at the moment and can be expected to pick up a lot of remain voting seats in London and the South West. The Brexit Party remains an unknown factor.
Elections can create strange bed-fellows and so, on the remain side of the argument, any number of coalitions or informal combinations might come into play. Depending on the maths, we could quickly get two more referenda. A rerun of 2016, but this time “remain v Brino”, followed by a rerun of 2014’s Scottish Independence bid.
Meanwhile, on the question of coalitions, the Conservatives are probably out in the cold. They won’t be able to rely on the DUP this time, so they’ll need to make gains to make up for that. To a degree, that could be an advantage for them, were it not for the Brexit Party potentially splitting their vote. While a non-aggression pact between the two seems unlikely, it will be interesting to see which seats Farage’s party do actually fight.
Of course it would be foolish to make a prediction. So here are three:
- A coalition of convenience puts Jeremy Corbyn into No 10, Jo Swinson into the cabinet and Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP onto an Indy2 footing (but not until Scotland has had its say in the watered-down rerun of the “in-in” EU race).
- Boris wins handsomely with more seats and a strong majority, despite winning a smaller share of the vote than in 2017 as the remain vote cannibalises itself between confused Labour and dogmatic Lib Dems
- We end up with another hung parliament and spend the rest of eternity in this political Groundhog Day, renewing the Brexit delay every few months and grinding the economy to a halt
Expect to hear election pitches from all the parties across TV, radio and big set piece interviews in weekend papers. If the bill is passed unchanged, Parliament will be dissolved on 6 November ahead of what is set to be a five-week campaign.