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In The U.K. An Unwanted European Election Will Be Scared By Brexit

Close-up of polling card for the European Parliament Elections to be held May 2019.


The latest opinion poll of United Kingdom (U.K.) voting intentions at the European Elections to be held on May 23, 2019 are seriously worrying for both the established parties and one of the new groups:

Here are the percentage scores for each party, ranked lowest to highest; (Source: ComRes, held on May 10-12). Plaid Cymru 1, Scottish National 3, United Kingdom Independence 3, Change U.K.  6,  Green 7, Liberal Democrat 13, Conservative 15, Labour 25 and Brexit 27.

The recent local elections saw the ongoing Brexit issue wreak havoc on the fortunes of both Conservatives and Labour. The great result for the Liberal Democrats (Lib Dems) appeared to suggest the nation overall was having a rethink about the entire Brexit proposition as the Lib Dems were a standout voice calling for Brexit to be cancelled.

However, whilst Brexit looks set to dominate voting intentions once again on May 23, latest polling puts Nigel Farage’s Brexit party on 27%, placing it ahead of a very muddled Labour message and the deeply divided Conservatives are facing a catastrophe.

It is no wonder that there is talk of panic at the high command of the U.K. two major parties and the Lib Dems can no longer look forward to these elections with such smug self-satisfaction.

There appears to be a resonance amid the 17 million of the electorate that voted to leave the European Union (EU) in 2016 with the message of Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.  They are the voters who are frustrated at Westminster’s inability to deliver Brexit that they are drawn to his Brexit Party’s claim that a solid victory for his party will force Westminster MP’s to reconsider the idea of leaving the EU without a deal…something they have already rejected.

The Conservatives are being punished for having failed to deliver Brexit on time and because the party is terribly split between the hard-core anti-Europeans (Euro Sceptics) and the pro-EU (Remainers). Similarly, the Prime Minister, Theresa May appears to be almost out of time. She has infuriated the Euro Sceptics by entering talks with Labour that raised concerns she would concede ground over a customs union with the EU and/or agree to a second referendum.

There are mounting doubts as to how long she can survive. Although Mrs May rejected the latest calls for her to step down it is hard to see how she could survive until the next party conference season.

Labour also face a poor poll showing, admittedly, not as bad as the Tories, however, the lack of a clear message over Brexit has seen many of its usual supporters drift away to an alternative that that they feel may offer a better chance of leaving the EU, sooner as against later.

The Labour message is muddled. Just this week, on Monday’s “Today” BBC Radio 4, the Deputy Leader, Tom Watson would not even confirm if Labour would support a deal that offered everything they sought without a confirmatory vote.

Sir Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit secretary, said any cross-party deal would fail to win majority support in parliament if it did not include a confirmatory vote as up to 150 Labour MPs would not back it.

There is no clarity from the negotiating team that Labour have sent to the talks with the Conservatives. All one hears is that the Government are not giving any concessions…however, what about any concessions Labour are prepared to consider?

The dilemma for Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn is that he does not want to be cast as enabling a Conservative Brexit, he does not want to be seen as the person who has blocked Brexit, nor does he appear willing to make a solid commitment to a new vote.

The real winner is Nigel Farage.

Nigel Farage, leader of the Brexit Party, listens to speeches during the party’s European Parliament elections campaign launch in Coventry, U.K., on Friday, April 12, 2019. Farage, the former leader of the U.K. Independence Party, is spearheading a new vehicle — the Brexit Party — which launched its contest for next month’s European Parliament elections on Friday. Photographer: Darren Staples/Bloomberg

© 2019 Bloomberg Finance LP

Some polls suggest up to 60% of usual Conservative supporters may choose to back the Brexit Party. What is it that they stand for? Just as with Mr Farage’s version of United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) it is nothing more than a pressure group, designed around one theme, leaving the EU. To that end Mr Farage seeks to sweep up as many to leave minded voters and exercise his leverage to deliver a hard Brexit or even a “No-Deal” Brexit

For every winner, there must be a loser. The real victim in this instance is the breakaway grouping Change UK (CUK). The latest polls show them polling just single digits as from an enthusiastic start, a series of mistakes has seen them fall away.

They have come across as politicians not prepared to stand and fight within their original party’s and by coming from both left and right there has been no clear message as to what CUK is or what it aims to be.

CUK is as monoline as Brexit and UKIP, albeit they want to remain in the EU. By trying to sound so reasoned compared to the infighting of the two main parties they have come across as the mainstream. Certainly not a force of change.

The upcoming elections will see the Conservatives and so hasten the Prime Minister’s departure date. Labour will do better but are still haemorrhaging votes in the Northern constituency’s that voted to leave and have been frustrated by Labour’s indecisiveness.

The success of the local elections will not lift the Liberal Democrats to great heights, just as across the rest of Europe, the U.K. will offer most support to its very own populist party who champion a hard and decisive Brexit.

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