Following the announcement of a general election in the UK, you would be forgiven for assuming that we Brits really enjoy voting. Perhaps due to the likelihood of queues, the celebration of modern democracy or even just the miniature pencils. This present vote has been met with delight, despair and of course, classic British ambivalence. This commentator will seek to clarify the implications of the recent developments in Britain, and their relevance to the Brexit negotiations.
Despite assuring the British public since her inception as Prime Minister that there would be no election, Theresa May has now confirmed the opposite. Against the now familiar backdrop of the post-truth landscape, this move is not hugely surprising. The Conservative party are doing well at the polls and now seems a perfect opportunity to capitalise and ensure the continuation of a Conservative government. Indeed, the likely outcome of the election is a Conservative majority, as was the case in 2015. Whilst one may be hesitant to complain about the opportunity to democratically elect a leader, it does feel somewhat as though energy may be better aimed outward than inward, now that Art. 50 has been triggered.
For Scotland and Northern Ireland, who both voted to remain in the EU, this latest development may come as a call to arms. Both countries have requested referendums relating to their continued encapsulation within the UK, and both countries have been declined. Not that the PM will hold to her word on this matter, of course, but it must serve to frustrate the smaller Scottish and Northern Irish nations nonetheless.
The number of major businesses with hubs in the UK who have intimated that emigration of their resources may be on the cards is growing. JP Morgan have recently joined the list, which already contains HSBC and Microsoft. Whilst unsurprising, given the uncertainty regarding import tariffs, passporting for financial services and the like, it would certainly appear that many large enterprises may not have much faith in the Tories’ Brexiteering prowess.
One factor remains certain: unravelling 43 years of treaties, negotiations and agreements, across thousands of issues, is not a straightforward task. The calling of a snap election in the UK is unlikely to simplify this task.