The UK’s Hung Parliament is not Brexit’s Fault, but the Conservative Party’s Manifesto

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By Gavin Swanson, Opinion Writer

We’re all probably aware of the great disaster that took place last week with Theresa May and her Conservative party calling for an election to bolster their majority through riding the Brexit wave, but instead losing that majority and creating a hung parliament. American press outlets would like to have you believe that the reason for this upset in the United Kingdom​ is a result of the citizens rejecting Brexit and May’s leadership in the negotiations that are to take place for it. This is simply dishonest, and does not recognize the actual reason for the Labour party’s surge and the Conservatives’ loss.

What this line of reasoning fails to acknowledge is the fact that the majority of UK voters did want Brexit, and the proof of that is in the results of the referendum they held for it in 2016. Perhaps those on the ‘remain’ side would like to believe that this is the result of people parting from their ‘leave’ beliefs. But this does not explain the surge that Labour experienced in the election, as the Labour party accepts the results of the referendum and fully intends to go through with it. If Brexit was the most important issue in mind for UK voters and they intended to back away from the commitment, then voters would have instead placed their eggs in the basket of the Liberal Democrats who intended to call for a second referendum where they would campaign to remain in the European Union. They instead only gained four seats in comparison to Labour’s 30.

So if it is not a rejection of Brexit in general that lead to the results, then perhaps it is the UK rejecting Theresa May and having her man the helm of the Brexit negotiations. While the argument that the public would rather have Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn lead Brexit talks is more valid at first thought than the argument that the UK did not want Brexit in general, it does not hold under scrutiny. The answer to the election results lies in the concerns of the people and not the leaders of the parties. According to a poll by Opinion Research Business International (ORB), only 15 percent of voters said they voted for the sake of choosing a prime minister.

The fault lies in the fact that people, including the leaders of the parties, view the recent election as a single-issue election when the people instead voted for the sake of public services. According to a poll by ORB, 89 percent of Conservative voters agreed that the election should not be solely based on Brexit. To clarify, Brexit was the number one issue of the election, with 24 percent of voters selecting it as the top issue for the election. However, Brexit was among other issues that voters considered to be top issues such as the economy at 22 percent and social care at four percent. This makes it clear that Brexit was not the only thing on voters’ minds as they walked into the voting booth, nor was it overwhelmingly their priority.

Although the Tory manifesto wasn’t entirely focused on Brexit, it clearly lacked in other areas and allowed the Labour party to shine in the areas of social care. The manifesto included ridiculous points such as fox hunting regulations, further restrictions on internet use and health care reform that could potentially decrease some families’ home values down to half of their current value.

While Brexit was important to the election and it was crucial for UK voters that a suitable prime minister was in power, to call these factors the deciding or only factors in this election would be irresponsible and simply not true. As a result of the Tory’s blunder, the government now does not have a clear majority to lead it during the Brexit talks and other discussions down the road. As a result, in order to form a government, May has had to align her Conservative party with the Democratic Unionist party, a political party famous for being vehemently against same-sex marriage and abortion rights. The Labour party has now seen new life after this election as it was on a steady decline before this election. One can only hope that as a result of this election, more deliberations and perspectives will be brought to the table on important issues facing the UK, and as a result they can find better solutions.

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