The U.K. is heading towards one of the most interesting general elections in its history with the main issue for voters focused on Brexit rather than on public spending, investments or public services.
U.K. voters on Dec. 12 will once again go to the polls to elect new parliament members two-and-a-half years after the last snap election and three-and-a-half years since the fateful EU membership referendum.
The idea of holding this election is to bypass the political impasse in parliament and sort out Brexit once and for all with a new set of MPs. But according to some, a hung parliament could emerge from the election, resulting in further indecision and gridlock. There is only less than three months away before the U.K. is due to leave the EU and time is ticking.
The political parties’ strategies for this election could prove polarizing in driving voters further apart in the pro-Brexit and anti-Brexit camps. The Conservatives are mainly focusing on the results of the 2016 EU referendum when seeking a majority government to deliver it. However, the Conservatives could lose the votes of the remainers and moderates while solidifying the base of the hard Brexiteers.
The Labour party’s election promise around the Brexit issue so far is to try to appeal to both to Remain and Leave voters. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn repeated his stance on Brexit that the referendum result must be respected, but with a softer Brexit agreement to protect jobs and businesses. He pledged to reach such a deal with the EU in around six months if his party wins the election.
The Scottish National Party’s Brexit stance has remained unchanged since the 2016 referendum when the Scots voted to remain in the EU. In their election campaign they reiterate this approach, vowing that if they are dragged out of the EU against their will by any future government, they will opt for a second independence referendum, presumably with the expectation of a different result than the last in 2014 when the Scots voted against independence.
The new Brexit Party has pledged a fast and definitive Brexit, rejecting the current revised deal of current U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Encouraged by the European Parliament election result this May, which made them the top party with the most votes, leader Nigel Farage thinks he could make lightning strike twice to win the election.
The Liberal Democrat Party is the only anti-Brexit party in this election. Leader Jo Swinson has said they would revoke Article 50 immediately if they win the election and make the country remain as an EU member.
The election comes at a time of slowing economic growth and trade tensions. Moody’s has changed the outlook on the U.K.'s current rating - which is a marker of how likely it is to pay back its debts - from "stable" to "negative" on Friday. Moody’s has also warned that the U.K.’s “Aa2” rating - the third-highest grade- could be downgraded for a country that is considered to hold one of the world’s biggest financial centers.