After May’s Deal Defeated, Brexit at Impasse

The Houses of Parliament in London, England at dawn, April 14, 2011
The Houses of Parliament in London, England at dawn, April 14, 2011 (Chris Goldberg)

Last night, Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal was voted down by the British parliament in an historic defeat.

This came even after she delayed the vote, which was meant to take place in December, to try to shore up support for the agreement.

The three largest opposition parties — Labour, the Scottish nationalists and the Liberal Democrats — voted against the deal. So did the junior governing party, the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (DUP), along with 118 of May’s own Conservatives.

In all, the treaty, which is meant to regulate Britain’s withdrawal from the EU, was rejected by 432 to 202 votes. Read more “After May’s Deal Defeated, Brexit at Impasse”

Beto O’Rourke Has Challenged the Stereotype of Texas

View of San Antonio, Texas from the Tower of the Americas
View of San Antonio, Texas from the Tower of the Americas (Unsplash/Chandra Maharzan)

One of the most watched elections in the United States on Tuesday will be in Texas, where Democrat Beto O’Rourke is challenging the incumbent Republican senator, Ted Cruz.

The unexpectedly close contest — polls put Cruz 3 to 10 points ahead; he won by 16 points in 2012 — has revealed something many had forgotten: Texas is not, and never was, monolithic.

When people, especially non-Americans, think of Texas, they think of cowboys, oil and Republicans. For a quarter century, this narrative has held. Now it seems to be fracturing. A new, or perhaps the true, Texas is emerging. Read more “Beto O’Rourke Has Challenged the Stereotype of Texas”

British Conservatives Face Three Structural Challenges

British prime minister Theresa May speaks at the United Nations in New York, September 20, 2016
British prime minister Theresa May speaks at the United Nations in New York, September 20, 2016 (The Prime Minister’s Office)

The United Kingdom’s Conservative Party has arguably been one of the most successful political parties in the Western world. It dominated British politics from 1886 to 1906, from 1918 to 1945, from 1951 to 1964 and from 1979 to 1997. It is now in government since 2010.

Yet, as the party assembles in Manchester this week for its annual conference, there is a sense of decline. Conservative membership is down. Brexit has cost them the youth vote. And the political landscape has shifted in Labour’s favor. Read more “British Conservatives Face Three Structural Challenges”

Election Divides Kingdom as Parties Consolidate Their Base

The British flag flies over the Houses of Parliament in London, England
The British flag flies over the Houses of Parliament in London, England (Unsplash/Matt Milton)

There is still a lot to digest from last week’s British election. The promised Conservative landslide never materialized. Labour gained seats, including in affluent constituencies like Kensington that it won for the first time, but it also fell short of a majority. Theresa May remains in power but has been weakened. She must rely on the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland for a majority, which threatens to upset the delicate balance of power in Ulster.

We can nevertheless say two things with certainty:

  1. The trends spotted in last year’s Brexit vote are accelerating.
  2. The new poles in British politics are consolidating and that leaves the center wide open. Read more “Election Divides Kingdom as Parties Consolidate Their Base”

British See French Election Through Prism of Own Politics

The United Kingdom on a globe
The United Kingdom on a globe (Ali Wade)

While we in United Kingdom do not have a vote in today’s presidential runoff, the election in France has dominated conversation and news. Which is somewhat remarkable, given the state of Britain’s own politics.

Despite this unusual attention for a French election, the British do not appear to have a strong preference for either Emmanuel Macron or Marine Le Pen.

One or two years ago, the choice would have been simpler. Macron stands for a liberalism that is familiar to Britons: he advocates free trade, privatization, deregulation and cuts to bureaucracy and welfare. David Cameron won the 2015 election on just such a platform. Macron would have been the favorite.

But much has happened in the last few years. Britain’s imminent departure from the European Union has changed everything. Le Pen is seen as part of the same populist backlash that prompted a majority of British voters to support Brexit last year. Read more “British See French Election Through Prism of Own Politics”

Local Elections Test British Parties’ Prospects for June

Theresa May Lars Løkke Rasmussen
Prime Ministers Theresa May of the United Kingdom and Lars Løkke Rasmussen of Denmark answer questions from reporters in Copenhagen, October 10, 2016 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Tom Evans)

Today’s local elections in the United Kingdom should be a good indicator of the national mood going into the general election in June.

The areas holding elections on Thursday are the “shire counties” of England and all counties of Scotland and Wales.

These areas are mostly rural or semi-rural and have a tendency to be either Conservative bastions, particularly in England, or have no single party in control. Read more “Local Elections Test British Parties’ Prospects for June”

Four Reasons to Doubt Conservatives Will Win In Landslide

British prime minister Theresa May is applauded walking into 10 Downing Street in London, England, July 13, 2016
British prime minister Theresa May is applauded walking into 10 Downing Street in London, England, July 13, 2016 (The Prime Minister’s Office/Tom Evans)

This week marked the last prime minister’s questions before the British election in June and seems a good place to examine the reasons Theresa May might be less secure that she seems.

While her Conservative Party is 21 points ahead of Labour in the polls — its biggest lead in almost a decade — there are four reasons to doubt it will stay there. Read more “Four Reasons to Doubt Conservatives Will Win In Landslide”

By-Elections Vindicate May, Give Little Comfort to Corbyn

British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends a conference of European socialist parties in Paris, France, July 8, 2016
British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn attends a conference of European socialist parties in Paris, France, July 8, 2016 (PES)

In an ordinary election cycle, last week’s by-elections in Stoke-on-Trent and Copeland might not have generated headlines. Labour has held solid majorities in both constituencies for years.

But there hasn’t been an ordinary election cycle since Britain voted to leave the European Union this summer. Read more “By-Elections Vindicate May, Give Little Comfort to Corbyn”

British Liberal Democrat Revival Starts to Look More Likely

Tim Farron
British Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron (Shutterstock/Finbarr Webster)

After they formed a coalition government with the Conservatives in 2010, Britain’s Liberal Democrats only lost elections — local, mayoral and national.

The low point came in May 2015, when the party lost 49 of its 57 seats in the House of Commons. Big names, like Danny Alexander and Vince Cable, were voted out. Liberal strongholds across South West England simply vanished.

Liberals have talked up a “LibDem revival” since that dismal election result and commentators have dismissed it as sheer optimism.

But could there be something to it after all? Read more “British Liberal Democrat Revival Starts to Look More Likely”