Brexitwatch (9)

It was only to be expected that along with many of my friends I stayed up to follow the results of the EU elections as they came in. While the British response was the main focus, my number one news source, the Drudge Report, took a wider view, considering Europe as a whole, leading with its headline:

EU LOSES CENTER

NATIONALISTS GAIN

RISE OF THE GREENS

ELECTION TURNOUT 51%

The media is and will be awash with analysis and projection regarding the results. While this was much as expected, there were notable differences to my own hopes and expectations. While I expected the centre (Centre Right and Social Democrats) to lose ground (and its majority), the Greens did better than I had expected and the mainly euro skeptic Nationalists, while gaining ground, did not do quite as well as I had expected. The notable (significant) exception was Le Pen out polled Macron in the French elections. While I was expecting to see a general trend across Europe outside the UK beset with its Brexit problems, that seems not to be the case as different countries favour ideologically different parties.

The British result followed on similar lines, but with exceptions, although for Nationalists we need to substitute the Brexit Party. Given the wide scale dissatisfaction with the two main parties, differences were to be expected. It was no surprise that the Brexit Party did well (although a lot of that was at the expense of UKIP) and the Conservatives did poorly. While I expected Labour not to do well, I did not expect they would do as badly as they did. Those who benefited were the LibDems and the Greens. The other new (anti Brexit) Party, Change UK, did poorly, having hardly got its act together. Regarding pro and anti Brexit, the meme would indicate that while the Brexit Party success shows a considerable swell in opinion that the UK should leave the EU without much further ado, and will have voted on this issue alone, forgoing the more extreme UKIP, there are more wanting to stay, or leave only if a satisfactory deal is agreed and/or the people confirms. This does not take into account the Conservative or Labour vote, which is likely to be more for a soft rather than hard Brexit. It should also be borne in mind that the Scottish vote is not yet in but the anti Brexit SNP is expected to do very well and the people who voted LibDem, Green and Change may have done so for reasons other than Brexit.

This brings me to another related matter: the stand down (FINALLY) of Theresa May as leader of the Conservative Party and the various candidates who have put their hat in the ring to be her replacement. Her standing down will have surprised few. Perhaps the biggest surprise is how she lasted so long. I would like to think history will be kind as she tried to deliver Brexit when there was so much opposition and difference in opinion as to how the Referendum result should be implemented, but there will be many (myself included) who believe she has shown terrible leadership, betraying those who expected much better. As for the candidates, if the bookies are to be believed, none of the front runners fill me with hope and enthusiasm, although whoever is elected will face a daunting task when it comes to delivering Brexit, despite the Brexit Party, who are now by far the largest representative UK body in the EU Parliament, looking like they will be a big check on how the Conservative Party operates under its new leader, and on Labour too, including calls for a second referendum and General Election.

We do indeed live in interesting times (the best of times, the worst of times). The mist that had descended on us prior to the EU elections has lifted only slightly by virtue of the stunning victory of the Brexit Party, but the country remains divided. While I am clear what I would like to see (UK leave by October 31st with a deal ideally, but if none can be struck that truly delivers on why I and many voted LEAVE in the EU referendum 3 years ago, then with NO deal), it is hard to predict what will happen next. While I would expect the General Election voting to be a lot different to these EU elections, I can forsee a big political realignment and even an end to the two main party domination. I have little doubt there will be twists in the tale that none of us will have predicted. It is also a time, which is ever the case, when we need to turn to God.

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