Mon | Aug 21, 2017

Editorial | Election rebuke

Published:Saturday | June 10, 2017 | 6:05 AM

Theresa May have called a snap election in April under the looming shadow of the Brexit negotiations with the European Union (EU), and in a stunning turn of events, she came out on the other side Thursday night, bruised and battered.

The extraordinary election results that saw May's Conservative Party falling eight short of achieving a majority in the 650-Member House of Commons, has cast a shadow of uncertainty over Britain's exit negotiations with the European Union (EU) due to start later this month.

May, thrust into office midterm, was hoping to get a huge mandate that would have allowed her to flex her muscles in these negotiations. However, instead of strengthening her hand, even with the highest voter turnout since 1997, she got fewer votes and lost eight of her ministers. Her voice will be decidedly weaker when she meets with EU negotiators.

"The mandate she's got is lost Conservative seats, lost votes, lost support and lost confidence," said Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who picked up significant portions of the youth vote to come out second in the electoral contest.

Despite Corbyn's call for her resignation, Mrs May will be reappointed prime minister and will seek to govern with support from Northern Ireland's Democratic Union Party.

Former colonies of Britain like Jamaica are mere onlookers in the drama playing out on that big stage. However, there are predicted to be serious implications for the region, particularly in the areas of trade, investment and aid. And our leaders should now be thinking of strategies to ensure that the region is not totally forgotten in the aftermath of Brexit.

It is estimated that it could take up to two years for Britain to fully withdraw from the EU - that is, in 2019. There are various trade deals that will have to be renegotiated, because in a post EU-world, there will be no formal trade arrangements in place between Britain and its partners.

 

Not high on agenda

 

One thing for sure, the Caribbean bloc, with a market of barely seven million, is not likely to fall very high on the agenda. Instead, the Government will be compelled to focus its attention on keeping the UK safe from the forces of evil that are intent on killing innocents and causing mayhem to disrupt people's way of living.

There are obviously some profound political lessons to be digested from the election. Perhaps the foremost one for politicians is to never call an election unless it is necessary. Critics say May succumbed to the oldest form of hubris: self-confidence bordering on arrogance and underestimating opponents, which is also what befell her predecessor, David Cameron. Analysis of this minority UK government will take place in the weeks ahead. Beyond the immediate headlines, two areas of interest are likely to be the increase in the number of female members of parliament rising to 207, which represents 32 per cent of the vote.

Another interesting statistic worthy of study is that the voters of the UK have delivered the most diverse Parliament by bringing on board 10 new ethnic minority MPs, taking the parliamentary total of non-white politicians to 51.

But perhaps one of the biggest talking points will be the performance of Mr Corbyn, whose message focused on economic and social inequality and the main carrot of scrapping tuition fees which appealed to the youth.

Now Mrs May and her Conservatives will have to decipher the message sent by voters, while the world looks on to see where it will all end.