Dear Partners in thought,
As Britain approaches yet another General Election, this one one of the most crucial in modern British history at a time when the two main parties have lost their compass and are suffering from very poor leadership, I thought it was good to state a few facts and offer some predictions as follows:
1. In the absence of a second referendum, this General Election will be first about Brexit and not really about leading the country.
2. Many if not most voters will vote according to the Remain and Leave divide and no longer for a party.
3. Very few voters will change their minds from their vote in June 2016 and will therefore vote tactically. Doggedness will prevail.
4. For nearly two years polls consistently showed a majority (52% to 54%) for Remain, a trend that will be exacerbated by many would have been Remain voters who went fishing in June 2016 (notably among the younger generations) and will be at the booth on 12th December.
5. Leave voters, oddly and broadly combining pauperised “left outs” from deprived Labour areas and very well-off, usually baby booming, conservatives in search of an existential project, will vote for some to regain a perceived lost sovereignty and others to protect what they see as a lost identity (and hopefully “vanished or stolen” jobs) while Remain voters, mostly younger and by and large cosmopolitan, living in prosperous large cities, will vote to ensure Britain does not experience a steep economic decline and keeps belonging to a leading bloc of nations. The two groups will keep not being on the same page as to what matters with a mix of noble and hateful emotions running high in the Leave camp while hard facts and mundane rationality will drive the Remainers.
6. Leave voters will either vote for the Tories or the Brexit Party, still impervious to the economic decline (already 2.5% less GDP growth since June 2016 according to the FT’s sober Martin Wolf) and the many years ahead of reshaping trading and related arrangements globally including with the EU. Remainers will vote very tactically depending on each circonscription in play.
7. While the Tories are in the lead in the polls and should finish first, the combination of Labour, Lib Dems and SNP may prove to be fatal to them across Britain, while they will suffer from the Brexit “No Deal” Party’s presence in 600 circonscriptions (if Farage’s current approach is likely maintained), as they took the mantle of British right wing nationalism if only for tactical Brexit and strategic party purposes.
8. Jeremy Corbyn’s “socialism” and associated economic programme, that may also speak to many Leave voters in poor areas of England and Wales, may prove on election day to be less toxic than the Tories would like it to be, all the more as the economic costs of Brexit may be now more strongly perceived in de-industrialised Leave constituencies that were traditionally anti-Tory precisely due to past conservative policies that affected the very industrial tissue of their areas. Johnson’s lavish plans to increase funding for the NHS and the police forces, thus buying the electorate, may prove to be too little too late while Labour’s public funding plans, while also substantial, may appear as more coherent even if in many ways radical under its current leadership.
9. As we can hear today, Boris Johnson will indeed need to be very lucky to win an outright majority and proceed with his Brexit while Jeremy Corbyn will just need not be too unlucky to secure victory by depriving the Tories from a majority, leading Johnson out of Number Ten, and thus setting the stage for a second referendum. At the very least and if less dramatic, the most likely outcome of 12th December will be a hung parliament.
10. There could be also a “black swan” that polls have not yet captured. If Remain voters fully vote on Remain as their key driver the Lib Dems may create the biggest upset in modern British political history or at least lead a coalition with parties largely opposed to leaving the EU thus changing the course of history as we have known it thus far.
These ten points admittedly come from a French-born European who sees the Brexit saga as the worst self-inflicted wound in modern British history and a loss-loss for Britain and the EU that came to existence only due to internal political party machinations and at a time where the two main parties reached an abyss in terms of vision and leadership. Now history – and indeed the people – will decide somewhat indirectly though in effect very directly which future they want for Britain – and to some extent Europe.