21 June 2019 | ANALYSIS
Hugo Sugg, Wolves of Westminster News Editor
Just the mention of ‘working government’ sends shivers down politicos and politicians in Westminster because it has been so gridlocked with Brexit over the last 6 months – but today the hell has just got even worse. The MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, Conservative Chris Davies, was recalled today which means the Conservative Government – in conjunction with the DUP – now has a working majority of zero.
This is a beautiful situation for Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party whilst a migraine for the incoming Conservative Prime Minister who will have to navigate the political waters on his ship with no crew, just passengers.
In case you thought Brexit couldn’t get any worse, it has, because now the Government has little to no buffer against a “softer” Brexit from the opposition benches. Politically, this plays straight into the hands of Corbyn and second referendum campaigners. Jeremy Hunt or Boris Johnson is going to be inheriting a damaged Conservative Party in terms of splits and the Parliamentary arithmetic. In the next few weeks we will see a by-election held in Chris Davies’ seat, which is classed as a marginal, and this could return another Conservative but it is unlikely.
As we saw in the Local and EU Elections, single-message Brexit/Remain parties are making headway with the electorate. Ambiguity is not something the public wants now, but with our two-party dominant system, this is the case with the Tories and Labour – so the voters are determined to throw a spanner in the works as many times as they can to break this.
There is a high possibility that we may see either the Brexit Party or Liberal Democrats take the seat in Brecon – which would have greater repercussions than just the current Parliamentary arithmetic. Either a majority pro-Leave or pro-Remain vote will be a stark warning in the camps of Labour and Conservatives, as they try and find a way through the current blockage in the Commons.
This situation is, of course, just one of many legacies of the snap General Election Theresa May called in 2017. Taking a gamble that even she wasn’t wanting to take in the beginning of her premiership, meant that May’s inherited working majority from Cameron was at risk. Out came a series of mishaps along with the famous “nothing has changed” rant and May threw away the Government’s majority in weeks. The Northern Ireland’s DUP with their 10 MPs held up May’s new Government, but this came at a cost – £1 billion at the time, and many defecting Tory MPs down the line.
Although the Labour-Conservative breakaway Change UK – The Independent Group (previously TIG & Change UK) earlier this year was seen as an electoral failure as a whole, this too has an undeniable legacy running. The 3 Conservative MPs who left just weeks into the New Year de-stabalised the Government more than anyone probably imagined. That shockwave is still being felt now in Number 10.
With her main mission unresolved, Theresa May has hung up her Captain’s hat and will be heading to the backbenches once more – leaving a complete mess for either Johnson or Hunt to sort out. Corbyn too has his own problems to worry about, including the loss of MPs to Change UK – TIG and reputational damage to boot.
The only winner I can see? The Tory Leadership candidate who doesn’t become Prime Minister!