Why Theresa May’s Supposed Triumph May Not Happen
In calling snap elections for the UK on June 8, the British Prime Minister may have entered into a game of Russian Roulette.
- Even though Brexit passed by only 52% to 48%, a large majority of these constituencies voted for Brexit.
- Brexit votes were split between the Conservatives, Labour and the UK Independence Party.
- Can Theresa May capture enough Brexit-oriented Labour seats to offset her losses among Remain-oriented voters?
1. At first sight, May’s position looks pretty good. She leads Labour by 44 points to 24 in the latest poll, with the Liberal Democrats a poor third on 12%.
2. However, perhaps as many as 150 of Labour’s seats are in ultra-safe industrial areas which the Conservative Party is unlikely to penetrate.
3. If the Liberal Democrats, which were reduced from 57 seats to 8 in the 2015 election, recovered their 2010 position and the Scottish Nationalists retained most of their current 56 seats, it would be effectively impossible for May’s Conservatives to have an overall majority in the House of Commons. A Liberal Democrat revival is not as unlikely as it appears.
4. May might also base her hopes on the voting pattern that materialized in the electoral districts throughout the UK during the EU Referendum.
5. Even though Brexit passed by only 52% to 48%, a large majority of these constituencies, about 409, voted for Brexit. Only 241 voted for Remain.
6. However, those Brexit votes were split between the Conservatives, Labour and the UK Independence Party.
7. The big danger for the Tories appear to be the 80 Conservative-held seats that voted by a majority for “Remain.” These are not the rock-solid Conservative seats in the countryside, most of which were solidly for “Leave.”
8. Those 80 seats are rather the soft-centered underbelly of Conservative Party voter support, almost all in London and the South. These voters have a tendency to defect to the Liberal Democrats.
9. My own home constituency of Cheltenham is typical of this class. Liberal Democrat from 1992 to 2015, it went Conservative in 2015 by a modest margin, but then voted by a substantial 57% to 43% for “Remain.”
10. It therefore comes down to a simple equation: Can Theresa May capture enough Brexit-oriented Labour seats in the North and Midlands of the UK to offset her losses among Remain-oriented voters in southern England and London that are likely going to vote Liberal Democrat?
11. It is by no means certain that May can pull this off — and very likely that the Liberal Democrats will poll far more than their current 12% of the vote on June 8.