UK Elections 

  Jul 06, 2020

UK Elections 


The UK elections were held in December, 2019. Boris Johnson returns to Downing Street with a big majority after the Conservatives swept aside Labour in its traditional heartlands. The Conservative Party has won a big majority after sweeping aside Labour in its traditional heartlands.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Conservative Party have vowed that if they reclaim their majority in Parliament, they will get Brexit done by quickly passing the prime minister’s Brexit deal and moving to negotiate a free-trade agreement with the EU by the end of 2020.

This was the third election since 2015.

What's happened?

-The Conservative Party has won a majority of at least 78, its biggest general election victory since 1987

-With one constituency left to declare, the Conservatives have 364 seats, Labour 203, the SNP 48, the Liberal Democrats 11, the DUP 8, Sinn Fein 7, Plaid Cymru 4, the SDLP 2, the Green Party 1, the Alliance Party 1

-The SNP has won more seats than in 2017

- For the first time, nationalist parties in Northern Ireland have taken more seats than unionists 

What now?

Conservative leader Boris Johnson is promising to take the UK out of the EU next month "no ifs, no buts"

Why is the UK having elections now?

The UK wasn’t supposed to have elections until 2022, given that the country just voted in 2017. But in that election, the Conservatives lost their majority.

They were able to retain power through an arrangement with the conservative Democratic Unionist Party in Northern Ireland, where the DUP supported the Conservatives on key votes but wasn’t formally part of their governing coalition.

But Brexit tested that shaky majority. Then-Prime Minister Theresa May couldn’t get her Brexit deal through Parliament, thanks to the extreme Brexiteers in her party repeatedly voting it down.

So the stalemate continued through the fall. But it worked, at least from the perspective of the opposition parties. Even though Johnson brought back a revised deal from the EU (which Parliament even backed in the first vote), the prime minister was forced to get an extension, something he didn’t want to do, and Brexit was postponed until January 31, 2020. Even though Labour, in particular, was wary about their electoral chances — Johnson did, and still does, have a lead — they had little choice but to finally agree to an election. So, at the end of October, they relented.

Elections were on.

What happens next?

The Conservatives said there would be a minor cabinet reshuffle at Downing Street on Monday, and that Mr Johnson's Brexit Withdrawal Agreement Bill would be put back before MPs in a vote on Friday.

With his new majority, it is likely that the bill will now pass, paving the way for Britain's exit from the EU on 31 January. 

What are the basic characteristics of UK elections?

Britain is a parliamentary democracy. The government should have the support of a majority of lawmakers in the elected lower chamber of parliament, the House of Commons. Thus, the national election is the election for the House of Commons. Voters will elect a member of Parliament for their local constituency. Voting is not compulsory in UK. Voter turnout at national elections has seen a decline since the 1950s, when it used to be over 80%.

Britain follows the first-past-the-post electoral system. There is no system of proportional representation for candidates.

To form a majority government, a party theoretically must win in 326 out of the 650 regional constituencies.

The upper house is called as the House of Lords whose members are un-elected. The monarch (Queen Elizabeth) enjoys the power to dismiss a Prime Minister or to make a personal choice of successor. However, the practice in UK is that the monarch does not exercise this right as it is considered as archaic. This is the practice since 1834. In addition, as a convention, the queen (monarch) does not get involved in party politics.  

What is the first-past-the-post system?

Under First Past the Post (FPTP) system, a candidate who gets one vote more than other candidate (who comes second) is declared as winner. In proportional representation, number of seats won by a party or group of candidates is proportionate to the number of votes received. 

What is the Brexit?

It is the abbreviation of “British Exit” from the European Union (EU).

Brexit is a term used to define United Kingdom coming out of EU. Recently in a referendum conducted in United Kingdom, UK voted by a narrow margin in favour of Brexit. Negotiations are undergoing currently between United Kingdom and European Parliament to negotiate the terms of the exit deal.

Brexit mirrors the term Grexit — a term which was coined and used by two Citigroup’s economists in February 2012 to refer to the possible exit of Greece from the EU.

Britain has had a troubled relationship with the EU since the beginning and has made various attempts in the past to break away from it. 

How will the Brexit and the election result in UK impact India?

Positive impact

Negative impact

There is concern among Indian investors of the negative impact of the British exit from the EU. India invests more in the UK than in the rest of Europe combined. India has emerged as the UK's third largest FDI investor.

Last year alone the value was estimated at 1.9 billion pounds (around $2.75 billion). As some Indian companies and sectors have investments and exposure to Britain, they are very worried of the 'Brexit'.

Those having business interest in UK believe that leaving the EU would create considerable uncertainty for Indian businesses. It would have an adverse impact on investment and movement of professionals to the UK.

The 'Brexit' is also going to hamper India's access to European markets. Hundreds of Indian firms that have base in the UK because they had continued border-free access to the rest of Europe. It was one of the main reasons for Indian companies to go to the UK.

Now with 'Brexit' there will be less attractiveness of going to UK and this may have a bearing on future investment decisions of Indian companies. 

What is the present status of relationship between India and UK in backdrop of Brexit?

Britain ranks twelfth, among, India's bilateral trade with individual countries. It is also among just seven in 25 top countries with which India enjoys a trade surplus.

Britain is also the third largest investor in India after Mauritius and Singapore, with a cumulative inward flow of $22.56 billion between April 2000 and September 2015.

As per data with the Commerce and Industry Ministry, India's bilateral trade with Britain was worth $14.02 billion in 2015-16, out of which $8.83 billion was in exports and $5.19 was in imports. The trade balance thus was a positive $3,64 billion.

So on the positive side 'Brexit' would help India more. It may also lead to greater investments by the British companies into India, which will increase the overall outflows of the domestic market.