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.
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.
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:
The trends spotted in last year’s Brexit vote are accelerating.
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.
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.