Reflections of the Moon
2017 was a crazy year in politics. It began with Theresa May in total control, calling an election that looked like a landslide and ended in failure as she lost her majority and ended up relying on the DUP to stay in Number 10. She regained some control at the end of the year with a successful end to the first phase Brexit deal and the polls showing the Conservatives statistically tied with Labour, when given the upheaval, you would expect Labour to be marching miles ahead. Much of the reason they are not has to do with their leader, who despite doing better than expected in the election, is a long way still from proving he is actually electable.
So what of 2018. The pattern could follow the same as the last six months. It will be dominated by Brexit yet again. There will be gamesmanship on both sides with at times May looking very weak. Then as time moves on and the March 2019 deadline looms, we will probably end up with a deal late in the day yet again. Whatever red lines are being thrown around now, it is likely to be a Norway style transition until December 2020, followed by a permanent Canada style deal, with some details tweaked. And yes, free movement may well stay until 2020, those with a problem with that will of course squeal if it happens. The base will be that little will change in relation to the Single Market aspects of the EU, but we will leave the rest of the EU’s activities (Which don’t forget accounts for roughly 80% of EU law)
This year will also see the completion of the withdrawal bill. The likely pattern is the Lords will pass a small number of amendments, will be rejected or a compromise found to allow the Lords to back down on the rest in the end. The bill should be passed and ready to be enacted into law by March 2019.
In May the local elections will likely give Labour something of a boost. This year’s local elections are heavily biased towards urban cities and London, where if General Election patterns are sustained, scope for some major gains for Labour are possible.At local level signs the Lib Dems are recovering are also showing in local by election results, There is scope in London for them to recover ground lost during the tuition fee row years. t could be a tough night for the Conservatives, given the terrain which the elections will be fought, coming close to holding what they have would be a success.
Elsewhere housing will likely be the biggest focus but it is an area with no easy answers. Will action match the talk? Time will tell. Michael Gove will also continue his campaign to make the Tories take more notice of animal welfare issues. This is a good thing from a Conservative point of view, the specter of a Fox Hunting vote and the suggestion of backtracking on the Ivory pledge definitely lost the Tories key votes in June.
Overall barring some big totally unexpected event it will likely be a fairly quiet year and I expect the polling to look much the same at the end of it as it does now, with no General Election and no change of leadership. What is more exciting is to watch the development of the influx of young Tories who are leading a social media fight back. Where will they take this in 2018, hopefully even further getting more people involved still to fight the barrage of hatred and abuse and Fake News that is the hallmark of Labour’s social media machine that needs desperately to be taken on and defeated.
2018 is in some ways the start of a five year cycle that will determine a lot about the future of Britain for a long time to come. While the window for those who want to stop Brexit looks small, it being done or not will have much longer effects. Then comes the next General Election, assuming it is in 2022, who will take control of post Brexit Britain, the Conservatives or the Hard left of Corbyn’s Labour, in a world where many more powers will be available to the winner, will also have long term consequences for the country. I have little doubt Britain outside the EU with a Conservative majority Government come 1st January 2023 is the best outcome.