Winners and losers from the UK election
Don’t just look at the results from Britain’s polls that had Theresa May’s Conservatives coming in at number one ahead of Jeremy Corbyn and Labour — the real winners and losers are far more interesting.
Theresa May: No mandate for her. The Prime Minister took a gamble by calling an election three years ahead of schedule. She had been hoping to get more popular support for her government as it navigates the country through Brexit. Even though her party won the most seats — 318 out of 650, with one constituency yet to declare — it lost ground and will not be able to govern alone.
So May has reached out to Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party for support and will continue to lead the government. “Disaster” and “catastrophe” are two of the words wafting through the London air. And there are questions about how long May can last. Even if she stays, it’ll be tougher for her to get things done.
The Conservatives: Bad judgment, again. Thursday’s vote was the second of two moves by the Conservatives that spurred unexpected periods of uncertainty and instability.
The first occurred last year, when May’s predecessor, David Cameron, held the Brexit referendum. Britons were asked whether they wanted to stay or leave in the European Union. To the surprise of almost everyone, nearly 52% of the voters favored leaving the EU. The pound crashed, the Prime Minister quit and the world gasped.
Brexit talks: Now that the Tories failed to secure a mandate and a majority in Parliament, the negotiations, scheduled to start on June 19, could be put on hold.
The EU and UK have to forge a deal by March 2019. “We don’t know when Brexit talks start,” tweeted European Council President Donald Tusk on Friday as the election results became clear. “We know when they must end. Do your best to avoid a ‘no deal’ as a result of ‘no negotiations,'” he said.
UKIP: A big goose egg for the UK Independence Party — the nationalist movement that favored an exit from the European Union. It won nary a seat and its party leader, Paul Nuttall, stepped down, saying UKIP needs a new focus.
But he also warned that the Brexit movement remains strong and that it will flex its muscles again if the Prime Minister backtracks from her promises on Brexit.
The Scottish National Party: Nicola Sturgeon’s party won 56 of 59 Scottish seats in the 2015 election but lost ground on Thursday. It ended up with 35 seats and the chances for its wished-for second referendum on Scottish independence took a big hit.
Nick Clegg: A surprising defeat for the former leader of the centrist Liberal Democrats. Clegg, who once served as a deputy prime minister, was defeated in Sheffield Hallam by fewer than 1,500 votes.
Jeremy Corbyn and Labour: The lesson is simple. Don’t write off Labour.
The opposition party had been down in the dumps, with dismal polling and a general disdain for whether leader Jeremy Corbyn was “prime ministerial.”
But a good chunk of the populace — including the young and the working class — showed an appetite for the left-wing policies and world view embodied by Corbyn and his progressive political agenda.
His talk of ending Tory austerity plans and getting better and fairer funding for health and education resonated.
Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party: This is the Democratic Unionist Party’s time in the spotlight. It gained two seats to hit double figures but it has outsize influence now.
May called the DUP her “friends and allies,” and aims to have an informal partnership with them to govern.
The impact the DUP will have is not yet clear. The party is dedicated to an open border with the Republic of Ireland and may demand that be included in Brexit negotiations. It is also opposed to same-sex marriage and any extension of abortion tights.
Female lawmakers: From left to right, Prime Minister to new lawmaker, 207 women were elected to the House of Commons, the most ever. In Birmingham Edgbaston, Preet Kaur Gill became the first Sikh woman to be elected to Parliament. Rosie Duffield won the seat in Canterbury, Kent for Labour for the first time in nearly 100 years. A number of prominent female power players kept their seats — Amber Rudd, Diane Abbott and Emily Thornberry, for example.
The youth vote. Looks like passion overcame apathy for young voters. Those in the 18-24 age group came out to back Corbyn: including in university areas like Sheffield Hallam, where Clegg lost his seat to Labour.
The interest — no matter what the party — could have an impact on civic involvement in a nation trying to find its way at home, in Europe and the world for years to come.