Last night brought a positive surprise with the results of the UK general elections, and what our British friends call a “hung parliament”. PM May’s gamble has not paid off. Furthermore the terrorist attacks did not motivate the voters to support the sitting government, which is good news for democracy. Maybe the time of absolute majorities and a system dominated by two major political parties or two opposing camps is over. In any case those who counted on Jeremy Corbyn losing have lost! No more third way! It might inspire others fighting election campaigns to approach a difficult situation with a clear stand and a strong campaign based on progressive references and stand points.
The UK election has a huge impact on all of us in Europe. PM May wanted to get a strong mandate for a hard BREXIT and was not supported by the voters. Unfortunately it seems that the majority of the political class in the UK still feel they have to “respect the popular BREXIT vote” without questioning how they got there and how this vote was built on lies and false information. The economic and social impact is considerable and in an almost instant response the British pound has been going down.
Besides the formation of a government coalition, still unusual in the UK, the same unresolved issues remain: what about the rights of EU-citizens in the UK and British citizens who are set to become third country nationals in the EU Member States. How can rising xenophobia be contained? It would also be naïve to think that the UK could easily negotiate trade agreements, as usually the negotiations take several years. What about the peace process on the Irish island? There are more than 30,000 commuters between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. These uncertainties remain on the agenda and we will see how far a new coalition will be able to set out a clear framework for the unsolved questions which are fundamental for citizens, whether they live in the UK or an EU Member State.
This election day was not May Day, but will hopefully pave the way to responsible negotiations. There cannot be a soft BREXIT as all kind of consequences may only produce losers on both sides. This is the historical responsibility of all those who campaigned by any means for leaving! Opportunism and poker policy got their comeuppance last night, which is the good news.
Together with our British members and partners we will continue to engage for our vision of Europe, for the Europe we strive for together!
This editorial appeared in the Weekly Round Up of 09 June 2017.