The gauntlet is down. The House of Commons has (finally!) agreed to Boris Johnson’s push for an early general election, backed by most of the other parties in Parliament. On 12 December 2019 – the first winter general election since 1923, – voters will go to the polls in the second snap general election in just over two years.
For the two big parties, this will undoubtedly be a difficult election. Notwithstanding the rhetoric welcoming an opportunity to go to the polls, both Labour and the Conservatives are in for a tough electoral ride. As voting intentions currently stand, the Conservatives remain substantially ahead of Labour, but as became evident during Theresa May’s ill-fated 2017 election, the impact of campaigning goes a long way.
What does seem certain, however, is that the 2019 election will deliver a significant number of non-Labour and Conservative parliamentarians. Given the position of the Liberal Democrats in the polls, there is an expectation that they will do well, while in Scotland the SNP looks set to win the lion’s share of seats, hoping to repeat the record-breaking victory it secured in 2015 (winning 56/59 seats). In the event of a hung parliament, these smaller parties will play a leading role. It really is all to play for!
Brexit will no doubt dominate the campaign in the run up to the election. The parties, of course, will put forward other proposals in their manifestoes, but the Brexit dispute is far from over. With the Conservatives’ proposition of ‘getting Brexit done’, the Lib Dems support for revoking Article 50, and Labour’s plan for renegotiation and then referendum, there will be no let-up in the Brexit debate.
Will Johnson win a majority? Will Labour blaze ahead in the polls? What will the result mean for Brexit? Will the ‘stop Brexit’ message of the Lib Dems pay dividends for the party? Over the next few weeks we’ll publish a series of posts tackling these big questions. Watch this space!
Dr Paul Anderson is a Lecturer in Politics and International Relations