The American election may be dragging on, but the British election, announced just a few short weeks ago, will come to a swift conclusion Thursday, as voters head to the polls.
NPR reports that “[t]his will be the fifth major vote in the country in less than five years — including two previous general elections, European Parliament elections and the Brexit referendum — a sign of how chaotic British politics have become.” Facing off for control of Parliament, and by extension, the government, will be the Conservative and Labour Parties, primarily, but also a handful of other groups — the Liberal Democrats, the Green Party, the Brexit Party, among them.
Until this week, the Conservative Party was leading by a strong margin, but reports from the U.K., including tracking polls, now say that that lead has narrowed, and that it’s not clear whether the Conservatives will come out of Thursday’s election with an outright win, per CNBC.
“Sterling took a dip on Wednesday as a respected voter poll raised the prospect of a hung parliament – in which no one party has a governing majority – arising from Thursday’s general election in the U.K.,” CNBC reported Wednesday. “The pound weakened against the dollar, weakening to $1.3107 earlier on Wednesday before rebounding to $1.3151, after a new YouGov MRP poll showed that the number of seats the ruling Conservative Party are expected to win had declined from two weeks ago.” The poll showed “the Tories could win 339 seats (22 more than they took in 2017) and a vote share of 43%.”
YouGov is considered one of the looser polling agencies in the United States, but CNBC points out that the MRP poll came the closest to predicting the outcome of the last election, so it’s earned favor overseas. A Guardian tracking poll, that likely favors Labour, shows both of the two leading parties gaining in the last week at the expense of other groups.
The biggest issue facing voters is, of course, Brexit — the plan for Britain to leave the European Union. Voters approved the departure back in 2016, to the shock of many, but the U.K. has yet to figure out how, precisely, to extricate itself from the European body, or whether it will even try.
CNN explains that Conservative Party leader, Boris Johnson, called the election for this week in order to try for a straight-conservative government which would allow Brexit to move forward.
“Since former Prime Minister Theresa May’s disastrous gamble on a snap election in 2017 deprived her of a working majority in the House of Commons, Britain’s Parliament has been at a political standstill. That result prevented May from passing her Brexit deal three times and dealt Johnson a series of defeats over his own Brexit strategy,” the network reported. “The next election was not due to take place until 2022. But Johnson came to the same conclusion as May — that the only way out of the impasse was to hold an early vote in an attempt to seek a parliamentary majority in order to enact his Brexit plan.”
Johnson has made “Get Brexit Done” the hallmark of his campaign and he claims that, if Conservatives win an all-out majority, he’ll could pull the U.K. out of the E.U. as soon as January 31st. That won’t be the end, of course. The U.K. will have to negotiate a new relationship with the E.U. and trade powerhouses, like the U.S., will have to negotiate new trade deals, separate from their E.U. deals, with the U.K., making it fairly difficult to simply “get Brexit done” — but Johnson seems to believe he’s up for it.
The U.K. elections will be held on Thursday. Results will be available, likely, Thursday evening or Friday morning in the United States.