With a mere 36 days to go until the General Election, political parties are jostling for media coverage to get their manifesto messages across to the voting public. This is no normal election as the Brexit issue continues to overshadow proceedings. The key unknown that concerns party leaders is the extent to which voters will prioritise their views on Brexit over other issues such as the economy, health, education and defence.
The Labour party manifesto is currently being crafted (and members of the public have had the opportunity to shape its priorities via email submissions). However, its position on Brexit has already been communicated by leader, Jeremy Corbyn, who states that if the party is elected he will negotiate a new deal with the European Union over a three month period, determine Labour Party policy at a special conference in the spring, and then hold a “Final Say” referendum – to include the Remain option – in summer 2020. Until the conference is held, he refuses to say whether he would vote for the new deal or not. It is likely that the “let’s sit on the fence” policy regarding Brexit will not sit well with the Labour party’s leave voters. 61% of Labour MP’s represent constituencies with a majority Leave vote in 2016’s Referendum, and we should expect heavy artillery from The Brexit Party and the Conservatives in all these constituencies as both parties seek to exploit the Labour stance.
That said, the Conservatives are in considerable disarray themselves, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s recent success in getting his Brexit deal through Parliament (albeit with a defeat over the timetable for scrutiny). Twenty two MP’s short of a majority, the Tories are looking for good news and they are unable to find any this week. Quite the opposite in fact, with the negative stories about Leader of the House of Commons, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s comments regarding the Grenfell fire and the shock resignation of Secretary of State for Wales, Alun Cairns, over rape trial claims.
Both parties have publicised ambitious public spending plans to entice the voters in an attempt to swing public opinion. Predictably, all political parties are also fully engaged in mud-slinging of epic proportions. For instance, Jo Swinson, Leader of the Liberal Democrats, claims that Boris Johnson is “Britain’s Donald Trump” and Jeremy Corby is a “threat to national security”.
Whatever your own views on the two main party leaders and their performance during the next few weeks, it is highly likely that they will nonetheless continue to hoover up the lion’s share of the 650 seats in the House of Parliament. The bookmakers reckon that the Conservative Party will win the most seats, with Ladbrokes and Coral offering the best current odds of 1/6.
The Jeremy Corbyn led Labour Party however, are facing a struggle to win sufficient seats and Bet365 and Coral offer odds of 11/2 . A Labour majority is seen as even less likely at the moment with odds of 14/1 available from Paddy Power.