So how did we get here?
David Cameron, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom promised the country a referendum on membership of the European Union, in order to placate Conservative Party voters who were switching to UKIP, whose one main policy was to leave the EU.
Cameron supported Remain. Remain lost. Leave won. In the wake, unwilling to preside over the leaving of the EU, Cameron resigned as leader of the Conservative Party and Prime Minister. After some shuffling, deals, backstabbing and other resignations, Theresa May was elected by the Conservative Party, unopposed, as their leader and, as a result, the new Prime Minister. That’s how it works.
For Americans, we don’t have a President, but it’s as if the Electoral College was the legislature, and the executive drawn from within its ranks.
Theresa May was struggling, her majority of Conservative MPs in the House Of Commons was repeatedly challenged, even while the public support for Labour, the opposition party was low, and her own approval ratings were high, So she called a General Election, aiming to increase her majority in the Commons and make it easier to pass legislation and deal with Brexit on her terms.
And facing a Labour Party whose members had voted in a far left MP, Jeremy Corbyn, who few other MPs tolerated let alone supported, with a history of hanging out with extremists, holding unilateral views, who could only fill a shadow cabinet with similarly extreme Labour MPs, while other MPs openly plotted against him. Some hoped that the election would destroy Corbyn, forcing him to resign and replacing him with a more centrist politician.
The campaign didn’t quite go that well. Despite many missteps, Labour produced a strongly left-wing manifesto that suddenly seemed rather popular, including free university tuition for all. While the Conservatives had to run U-turn after U-turn as their implications of their own policies were examined.
And on the 8th of June, Britain held its General Election. And everything went insane.
Rather than put on votes, there has been a swing away from the Conservatives to Labour. But the swing is all over the place around the country. Pretty much anything can happen in any different constituency. And the young, the demographic that never voted, have come out in force. Electoral participation is way up and, as a result, it is taking longer to count votes (all by hand).
The current predictions are for the Conservative Party to have lost seats and lost a majority in the Commons, but remain the largest elkcted party. Labour have gained seats, including from the Scottish National Party. UKIP support has collapsed and spilled out into the other parties – but not just the Conservatives.
Predictions are that even though Theresa May has won the election for the Conservatives, she may be forced to resign after taking the decision to hold a General Election now. She may be replaced by Boris Johnson, giving Britain a new Prime Minister by July.
Jeremy Corbyn, despite losing the election, has done far better than expected and much better than the last guy and may well not have to resign. Indeed, it is possible that if the Conservatives can’t get it together with enough Northern Irish Unionist MPs that the Labour Party will form a minority government, hoping for support from the Liberal Democrats, Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru, Green and more. And Corbyn would be Prime Minister despite having lost the election.
But either way, the next five years are going to be of deals, of coalitions, or unstable government, of challenges and compromises, all while trying to negotiate Brexit. Or there will be another General Election in the same year, as happened in 1974.
The Conservative Party have all but lost London. Scotland has started to reverse the SNP gains on Labour – and Conservatives are even taking seats in Scotland too. Indeed Scottish Conservative MPs may possibly save Theresa and give her the slimmest of majorities, depending how things go. It’s all so uncertain.
But Labour MPs are going to just have to get used to having a leader who they hate but who is popular amongst the people as well as party members, and might have to swallow their pride. It’s hard to argue with success.
I urge anyone to watch a TV mini-series from 1988, A Very British Coup, available in the UK on All4, on Acorn TV through Amazon, as it may well be about to play out.
Welcome to a very Weird Britain indeed. It’s 2.30am and I am going to bed.
In six hours everything may be different. Do let me know…
UPDATE: Were you up for Nick Clegg?