'British Conservative Party will never take youth vote for granted again'
The British Conservative Party, which suffered a major setback in the 2017 general election, as the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn gained 32 seats and increased its share of the popular vote to 40 percent. However, the Conservative Party remains in government and will continue to pursue its agenda.
RT: How would you explain the election result? Why was it such a disaster for Theresa May?
Daniel Kawczynski: Well, I wouldn’t describe it as “weak and wobbly...” She obviously put her message to the British people, and she didn’t get the large majority that she had held. Nevertheless, we are the largest party. I have every confidence we can do a deal with the DUP [Democratic Unionist Party] from Northern Ireland in a confidence and supply motion, whereby we will be able to form the next government and get important legislation through and focus on the most important thing for our country, which of course is Brexit.
RT: Do you believe the results will have a significant impact on Brexit talks? The DUP alliance will soften any Brexit, surely?
DK: We have a system here in the UK, which is obviously that whoever has the majority in the House of Commons – the 326 majority - obviously can form a government, and will have the first opportunity to form the government, but very importantly to put forward legislation and to negotiate it on behalf of the country. Of course, given the very small majority that we will have, the opportunity for other parties to scrutinize the sort of Brexit that we want to implement will be that much stronger. They will have more power to probe and to try to derail some of the things that we are hoping to get through Parliament.
But I have confidence in the result that we have. We believe that Brexit means Brexit, which means pulling out of the customs union, pulling out of the single market I should say, and negotiating an effective trading relationship with the rest of the EU. We have to stand by that, and many of our constituents expect us to implement this clean, effective Brexit and an effective new relationship with the EU. There will be debates; there will be discussions; a very, very polarizing election, and it will be very polarizing in the House of Commons. But we are the largest party, and we have the right to try to negotiate Brexit on behalf of the UK.
The UK held a General Election on Thursday. Theresa May’s Conservative Party won 318 seats in the Parliament, the Labour Party got 261, and Liberal Democrats gained 12. Meanwhile, the Scottish National Party suffered a major defeat, with high-profile figures losing seats. It was expected to be the kingmaker in the election. - Douglas Chapman, Dunfermline and West Fife MP-elect
'May is an unconvincing performer'
Mark Garnett, Senior Lecturer, Lancaster University
RT: Is it a turning point in UK domestic politics, and has Theresa May’s gamble backfired on her?
Mark Garnett: Throughout this campaign, I had a very big reminder of something I’m old enough to remember: in February 1974 Edward Heath, Conservative prime minister called an election, because he wanted a bigger mandate. There was no real need for him to call the election, except to strengthen his position, and that backfired very badly. In the next day, the headlines were: “Heath’s gamble fails.” It seems that the headlines are going to be the same with the name May replaced for Ed Heath. Certainly, it’s been a very curious decision. Mrs. May at first said that there would not be an election. Then she said that there would be one, and that got the campaign off to a very bad start, and she never recovered. She proved to be quite an unconvincing performer. Whether the Conservatives thought that it didn’t really matter that she was not the most natural campaigner or not – that they are going to win anyway – that seems to have been the calculation. If so, that has backfired very spectacularly…
What has happened today, is that the youth votes, the young people between 18-25, they notoriously in Britain don’t turn out to vote in very large numbers. They didn’t turn out in very large numbers in the Brexit referendum. It is almost as if that has been their wake up call. At this time round they were determined that the election is going to be influenced by their vote much more than in the past. This seems to be the explanation, at least in part what’s happened.
But the other thing, I suppose, is that the Conservative Party took the risk of saying that pensioners, elderly people, would perhaps now begin to feel some of the effects of the government’s austerity program from which they previously been protected. So at both ends of the age scale, the Conservative Party has suffered a squeeze, and that young people have come out to vote against the Conservative Party, and older people perhaps haven’t voted for the Conservative in such large numbers as before. That marks a big change because I’m afraid that political parties have taken the youth vote very much for granted. They will never do so again after tonight. They are going to have to pay as much attention to the young as they have done previously to the elderly.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.