When the early general election was first announced on 18th April, I feared it was part of a plot by the political establishment to weaken Brexit. It sometimes felt like Theresa May didn’t want to win the election, having put forward numerous unpopular policies in her manifesto – for example, I know a lot of people had strong opinions on the potential return of fox-hunting and some elderly people were worried they would have their homes taken off them to help fund social care. Furthermore, her refusal to attend the TV debate in the final days of the campaign made her appear weak.
My concerns that May will not deliver a proper Brexit rose further, when a couple of days ago I read about secret talks between Conservative and Labour politicians to secure a softer Brexit. Some MPs suggested the Prime Minister would consult more with business ahead of the EU talks which are scheduled to begin next week. According to the Daily Telegraph, there have also been discussions around the creation of a cross-party Brexit Commission to agree common ground between the parties.
Another concern is that Remainer Chancellor Philip Hammond is leading the Cabinet revolt against a true Brexit. With the Conservatives losing their majority at the general election, Theresa May is heading up a minority government but needs to enlist the support of the Democratic Unionist Party and their 10 MPs to secure a majority. Yet Hammond has been accused of dragging his heels in the DUP talks in an attempt to force Theresa May to accept a soft Brexit. It is thought he could be trying to push for watered-down policies on Brexit, and possibly remaining in the customs union.
Following the shock general election result, I’ve seen a lot of this kind of talk amongst politicians and media commentators about how there could be a softer Brexit now that Theresa May has lost her majority. For example, Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon claimed that hard Brexit is “dead in the water”. However, her party lost more seats than any other. Both the Greens, and the Welsh nationalists, Plaid Cymru, saw a decline in their vote share. Although the pro-EU Lib Dems won 4 extra seats (due to the idiosyncrasies of the first past the post voting system), their number of votes actually decreased greatly compared to the 2015 general election. So, all these things considered, the British public has clearly rejected a soft Brexit.
I am concerned that the political establishment will try to pull the wool over our eyes by saying that Thursday’s general election result is a mandate for a soft Brexit. Even ex-PM David Cameron is joining in after failing to convince the nation to stay in the crumbling EU last year.
But a new poll from Lord Ashcroft carried out after the election shows that 71% of voters now want us out of the European Union despite the lies of the political and media elite (49% are enthusiastic about the UK’s EU exit and a further 22% are accepting of the result). The number of people who still resist Brexit and want to reverse it has shrunk to a paltry 28%.
If anything the general election represented an endorsement of last year’s decision. Over 85% voted for parties (Conservative, Labour and UKIP) who had a manifesto pledging to leave not just the European Union, but the Single Market as well.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that a hard Brexit looks increasingly inevitable as European banking expert Bob Lyddon warns a soft Brexit would be too expensive for Britain. This is despite David Cameron advising Theresa May to pursue a soft Brexit.
In conclusion, the general election results do not change the results of the EU referendum. However, we will need to be vigilant that Remainers don’t use the events of recent days to attempt to water down Brexit.
The referendum result still stands, and the people still want Brexit. So let’s not give up the fight! Support our campaign now.
Disclaimer: The thoughts expressed in this article are those of the author, and not necessarily of MBGA News.