Brexit: Things didn't quite go to plan…

Concerned how the election result affects the equestrian world? Ready to fill us in with the aftermath of the election is Zoe Chadwick to explain. 

It’s fair to say that Theresa May’s decision to call a snap election backfired spectacularly.

It was an election campaign intended to deliver a large Conservative majority, but instead resulted in a hung Parliament, where no single party has an overall majority in the House of Commons.

 The National Picture

The Conservatives won 318 seats after losing 13 seats. Meanwhile Labour won 30 seats, bringing them up to 262 seats.

This means the Conservatives remain the largest party and for all intents and purposes won the election, but they fell short of the 326 seats need to have a majority government.

This has left the Conservatives worse-off in terms of seats and vastly weakened as an administration.

This was an unexpected result for both parties, and while the Conservative party licks its wounds, Corbyn’s Labour party is celebrating a remarkably successful election as far as it’s concerned.

Labour entered the election up to 24 points behind in the polls and suffered damaging losses during the local and Mayoral elections in May.

Yet, despite serious and widespread reservations about Corbyn’s leadership, the party has not only managed to repel Conservative advances into target constituencies, but increase its own number of seats.

Analysis has suggested that the Labour party benefitted from a dramatic increase in youth turnout (18-24 year olds) as well as a ‘Brexit backlash’ in certain parts of the country, notably London.

Despite this success, Labour remain a distance behind the Conservatives as the largest party – demonstrating the difficulty both the two main parties are experiencing in gaining sufficient support to deliver a workable majority in the House of Commons.

The only glimmer of positivity for the Conservatives came in Scotland, where the party picked up 13 seats from the Scottish National Party (SNP).

The Scottish success was largely masterminded by Ruth Davison, the Scottish Conservative leader, who pursued an alternative policy programme in key areas like social care. 

Overall the SNP lost 21 seats, including its former leader Alex Salmond, representing a substantial setback for the Scottish Nationalists and their claims to a second independence referendum.

What now?

Theresa May went to Buckingham Palace on Friday to inform the Queen of her intention to form a minority government.

Since then, and as you may have seen, May has been in talks with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) about a deal to ensure that the Conservatives get the parliamentary support they need to get implement its manifesto.

With 10 seats, the DUP would be able to provide May with a working majority, albeit a very slim one. The nature of this deal is yet to be announced.

The Queen’s Speech, which will outline the Government’s legislative agenda for the new parliament, is due to take place next Wednesday.

But with such a slim majority, the Conservatives (even supported by the DUP), will encounter difficulties in passing even the least controversial legislation.

With all of this in mind, it would be wise not to discount the possibility of a second election in the near future.

What does this mean for Brexit?

As you may remember, one of the key reasons for calling the election was so that Theresa May would have a stronger mandate for the Brexit negotiations. Instead, May will be entering the Brexit negotiations next week in a weaker position, and with a weaker mandate.

This means that it is very conceivable that the ‘hard’ Brexit that the Government were aiming for will have to be tempered.

Indeed, the Telegraph reported on Wednesday that Conservative and Labour MPs are holding (not so secret) secret talks to ‘secure cross-party backing for a ‘soft’ Brexit’, which will involve concessions on immigration policy, the customs union and the single market.

To top this all off, while the election has been going on, Brexit negotiations with the EU have been put on hold, but the two-year clock has kept ticking.

Britain has to leave the EU by 29th March 2019, and the EU’s Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier has said that the UK is at risk of not getting a deal because of the delays in the negotiations.

The new Government now needs to crack on and secure the best deal for the UK.

As these negotiations continue, I’ll keep you up to date on how Brexit is developing and what it means for the equine sector.