Want EU Back? Or Hard Brexit 2.0? UK June Election Will Decide

Just when you thought the weeks ahead were going to be all about the French election, along comes a bolt of out of the blue -- a UK general election on June 8th. The burning issue that meant this couldn't wait until 2020, when the election was due? You guessed it -- the only game in town: Brexit.

Could adland finally get the reversal of Article 50, which it never wanted? Could the nightmare of a potential ending of free trade with the EU be reversed, could we maybe just carry on with our balance of trade in services firmly in the black? Could we put an end to Berlin, Amsterdam and Paris opening their arms to advertisers who want pan-EU reach without the risk of future tariffs?

To be honest, I very much doubt it. If Theresa May increases her majority, it's Hard Brexit, or the potential for Hard Brexit, all the way. If she fails to gain a majority, that would be interesting, wouldn't it? A "softer" Brexit, even a PM calling for another referendum on Europe? Or maybe, more realistically, the alternative at the end of the negotiations could switch from a "deal, or no deal" vote in parliament to a choice between the deal on offer or staying within the EU.

Today's calling of a snap election runs counter to the new practice, enshrined in law in 2011 that parliaments are supposed to last five years. However, with a slim majority in the Commons, getting the necessary votes to allow a June election will not be a problem. In fact, it is that slim margin that means the election is necessary.

Theresa May knows she will always have a proverbial monkey on her back if an election were not called. She is, after all, a Prime Minister who has inherited the title, rather than won it through the ballot box (just as Gordon Brown from Labour before her). She is also pushing through Brexit, which she stood against, and in so doing, giving those still campaigning for the UK to remain in the UK political ammunition to fire in her direction daily.

A victory for May and Brexit will mean the country has spoken again -- and that would not be good news for Remainers.

More to the point, a general election would appear to make good sense. This is a tactical move as much as anything. The main opposition party, Labour, is in disarray. Young party members love left-winger Jeremy Corbyn, whom they have reaffirmed as leader, much to the chagrin of the parliamentary party, which is perpetually plotting to oust him.

When better to strike at your weakened opponent than when you can claim the moral high ground of ratifying the trust the public has put in you (or words to that effect) to seek a greater majority to implement "the will of the people" (or words to that effect)?

In the UK right now, we have the oddest political setup. Theresa May campaigned for Remain, yet became PM following the Leave vote. Her party's stronghold is the affluent south, which voted to Remain, yet here she is leading Brexit. Then we have Labour, which mostly campaigned to Remain, yet its heartland of Midlands and Northern support (and Welsh, to a lesser extent) pushed through the vote to Leave.

So to recap, the Labour leader was a very quiet Remain campaigner who now faces a core support that wants to Leave, while the PM was a Remain supporter, forced to push through Brexit, despite her power base wanting to Remain. You may need to go back and read that last line again before you realise that it really is as nuts as it sounds.

If you want my one tip as the hustings get underway, watch the Liberal Democrats. Why? Well, while the Labour party has been in turmoil, plotting against its leader and being at odds with its core supporters, the Liberal Democrats, who shared power with David Cameron's first administration, have effectively positioned themselves as the main party speaking out for those who want to Remain or at least Leave with the least noticeable difference to our relationship with the EU.

The Liberal Democrats are strong in the south, where they have a good record in local government. The last general election was not good news for the party, but they're still strong in the south and will be fighting against what is perceived to be a potential "hard" Brexit in the Tory heartland. Trust me -- they might not cause a lot of upsets, but they will run the Conservative party a lot closer than in previous elections. There may even be a shock or two in the post.

Ultimately, however, if you are thinking the June election may change everything and put adland back at heart of the EU, there are three things to consider.

First of all, Article 50 has been fired following a referendum that called for the UK to leave the EU. Secondly, it's unlikely that a party pushing through "the will of the people" will be humiliated in a general election, and so the current path is likely to continue.

Perhaps the most important point, however, is that the UK's relationship with the EU is no longer up to what we Brits want. It's down to what the remaining 27 member states decide to offer us.

Many smart people are missing this very simple truth. We are one country -- they are 27. A general election will not impact this one iota. 

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