With an election looming, and the likelihood of a Lib Dem surge, despite the polls giving the Tories a lead in the region of 20 points, the Tories may find themselves as the largest party, but without a clear majority. This is mostly due to the key Tory-Lib Dem marginals being potentially being lost – as the Tory 23,000+ majority being overturned by the Liberal Democrat candidate in Richmond Park in the recent by-election proved this is very likely. The Conservatives at this rate would not likely win enough key Labour-Tory marginals from the Labour Party to make up for seats lost to the Lib Dems. This is all speculation, but what if we wake up on the 8th June to find a hung parliament, with the Conservatives as the largest party?
As in 2010, most would seem another Tory-Lib Dem coalition likely. The 2010-2015 coalition between the two parties proved to produce a stable government, with both parties conceding certain policies from their manifesto in order to retain power and remain in government. The Lib Dems voted to triple tuition fees despite promising to scrap them, and the Tories voted to hold a referendum on replacing the first-past-the-post voting method (FPTP) for the alternative voting method (AV), despite being staunchly against any reforms on the current voting method. Comprises were made, but Brexit and tuition fees are two completely different things. How could the Lib Dems, a Europhilic party, go into a coalition with the Tories, who want to deliver hard Brexit?
The differences between the two parties are too major for any arrangement or compromise to come about, even if they came to any arrangement in a situation where the Tories need the Lib Dems, what about Brexit? How could they come to an arragement? It’s clear – they wouldn’t be able to. It would be difficult to Theresa May to tell the British people that the Conservatives would keep the UK in the single market – though it is doable, but it might destroy her approval ratings. It would be impossible for Tim Farron to ask his party members and MPs to back hard Brexit in order to enter a coalition with the Conservatives; it simply wouldn’t happen.
Tim Farron might have said in an interview with the LBC today that he wouldn’t rule out a coalition with the Conservatives, but this is more out of formality, rather than suggesting that it is possible – after all, as he said, “We’re (the Liberal-Democrats) not going to talk about what happens on the 9th of June given that we don’t know what’s going to happen on the 8th.”
The only reason we’re having this election is because of Brexit; this topic will define the election. It seems the Tories and the Lib Dems differ too much on this key topic to make arrangements for a coalition if a situation occurs in which we need them to come together to form another coalition.
by Berk Bektas
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