Theresa May GE2017

GE2017: All the unanswered questions…


Thursday night was a very confusing night in British politics. The general election results are in: the Conservatives won, but didn’t. The Labour Party didn’t win, but lots of supporters are acting like they did. No-one has enough votes to form a government, but actually the Conservatives might.

Heads hurt? Ours too.

If the last couple of years have taught us anything, it’s that people in the financial industry – or the people who make up what people call the ‘markets’ – don’t like uncertainty – and this whole thing is pretty uncertain. What’s happening to the numbers?

Every recent election has been accompanied by a lot of chat about what the ‘markets’ – people who trade in stocks and shares –are doing. The general rule is that when things aren’t certain, people doing that kind of trading get nervous.

When the news came in that the result of the election was likely to be a ‘hung parliament’ – which means a lot of uncertainty – the value of the pound fell. But when it became clear that this result could stop Theresa May’s ‘hard Brexit’, the value of the pound rose again.

Honestly, it's too early to tell what the effect of all this will actually be on the economy. From where we're sitting, it's hard to really get a handle on what these numbers rising and falling actually mean to people, but it's fair to say everyone's pretty spooked.

Wait, what was that about Brexit?

Yup – you heard right. The whole point in this election was so Theresa May could prove she had enough support to go into Brexit negotiations. Those negotiations are due to start in, like, 10 days, and that support? Not so much.

The EU hinted that it could agree to delay the start of talks, but Theresa May said today that she would continue. What shape those talks will take without the support she was hoping for is less certain.

For businesses in the EU, Corbyn’s surge against Theresa May is actually quite good news. They wouldn’t traditionally be supportive of high-spending, high-tax politicians like Jeremy Corbyn but seem to think that Theresa May’s weakening position in the UK will make a Brexit deal that’s more favorable to them more likely.

So are any other Tory policies under threat?

During the campaign Theresa May’s Conservative Party were actually pretty light on policies – she seemed convinced that just saying “strong and stable” over and over again would get through to the UK population – something that seems to have backfired.

Some of the policies she did set out – reintroducing schools that select students based on exam grades or ‘grammar schools’, for example, or putting a cap on the amount the government can spend on social care – were so unpopular even with her own party it seems unlikely she’d ever get enough votes to pass them with such a reduced number of her own MPs in parliament.

The reason it’s so important for a Prime Minister to have a majority in parliament in the UK is so there are enough people to vote for all the bills and laws their Party want to pass. Without a majority it’s going to be really really hard for Theresa May to get some of her more controversial policies through – if she even tries. Basically, there’s no real answer to this Q other than...

So Theresa May's looking pretty rattled. Will she stay on?

Theresa May said she would not resign and is ploughing ahead with forming a government. Her promise throughout this whole election was about stability and there is nothing stable about losing a majority, and then resigning and probably forcing another election.

It looks like she’s made a deal with a Northern Irish party you can expect to hear a lot about in the next few weeks – the DUP – which could see her scrape through as PM.

But, it’d be hard to argue that she’s anything but weakened by this whole thing. How long her government will last is, to be honest, anyone's guess.

Woah, woah, woah wait! who the f*!k are the DUP?

So, it turns out you can follow an election for weeks, you can get hold of as much info as you can, try and form an opinion to make a choice and then a party you have barely ever heard of waltzes in and becomes part of the government – just like that. British politics just got even weirder.

When a party doesn’t have a majority it can strike a deal with another party to form a government. The same thing happened in 2010 when the Conservatives went into ‘coalition’ with the Lib Dems. This time around that seemed almost impossible, the Lib Dems are very anti-Brexit, and were really really badly burned at the end of the last coalition. Instead, the Conservatives turned towards Northern Ireland.

The DUP have 10 seats – all of which are in Northern Ireland. Their main thing is to ensure Northern Ireland stays in the UK (we’d really like to avoid going down the rabbit hole of the history of Northern Ireland’s relationship with the UK here, so bear with us). They were also pro-Brexit, are anti-abortion, voted against gay marriage in the UK and don’t believe in the whole climate change thing.

Is there going to be another election?

Again, no idea. Brenda from Bristol, it's over to you...

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