The 2017 General Election and what it means for Brexit

A shock 2017 General Election result, with the Conservatives losing their majority.

Two quick thoughts why I think Brexit was actually re-endorsed.


A coalition reliant on DUP votes helps Brexit

With no overall majority, Theresa May has indicated she will form an informal arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland. With the DUP's 10 seats, the Conservatives have a small working majority of around 8-10 and 328-329 MPs combined.

The DUP are strongly pro-Union, and their Brexit position aligns with both the 2017 Conservative Manifesto and Vote Leave's campaign. Unless the Conservatives want to have another election immediately, it would be very difficult for them to water down their commitment to Brexit.

Here are some key extracts from the DUP's 2017 Manifestos (for the NI Assembly 'Our Plan for NI' and Westminster, 'Standing Strong for NI'). There will be no way to keep the DUP on-side without sticking to these principles, and they now have a double lock of democratic endorsement (52% of the Referendum result; and 50.4% of the available MPs in Westminster).

We opposed the United Kingdom joining the European Economic Community in 1975 ... We assessed the Cameron re-negotiation as an utter failure ... The DUP sees no value in the attempts by some to keep re-running the referendum

We want to get on with the work to make it a success; to write our own laws; to deliver on the vision of a Global UK...with new free trade deals…to control immigration; farming and fishing…to lift the burden of unnecessary regulation

Rights of British citizens in the EU and those from EU member states living here safeguarded ... Jurisdiction of European Court of Justice ended and greater control over our laws restored ... Positive ongoing relationship with European Union in keeping with Article 8 of Lisbon Treaty

The General Election result endorsed Brexit in many ways

Manifestos backed Brexit.

The largest party (Conservative), second largest party (Labour), and 5th largest party (DUP) all backed Brexit in their manifestos. Of course Labour's contained different end goals and objectives, but the direction - leaving - was in all three. This end result is now backed by 52% in the referendum, and over 580 MPs in Parliament.

Remain MPs lost more than Leave MPs

Of the 68 MP's who lost their seats, 55 - the vast majority - had backed Remain in the 2016 Referendum. Only 13 Leave backers lost their seats. And many of these were in areas with high youth turnout and university towns motivated by Corbyn (a Eurosceptic himself).

GE2017 MPs who lost their seats, by EU Referendum preference

Parties that backed Remain or opposed Leaving the EU even after the result lost a significant % of their MPs. Below is a split of losing MPs who backed Remain by party.

Losing "Remain" MPs by Party

Note: all 13 losing "Leave" MPs were Conservatives, and the SDLP were completely wiped out, losing all their 3 seats

Other factors also indicated Brexit support.

Nick Clegg lost his seat for the Lib Dems. Clegg was the face of "resistance" to leaving the EU, and in favour of a second independence referendum. The Lib Dem campaign also failed to launch, getting around 8% of the popular vote despite having a pool of 48% "Remain" to appeal to.

Alex Salmond and Angus Robertson (SNP) lost their seats. They had been providing some of the main anti-Brexit opposition in Westminster. Whilst Salmond's loss was largely down to opposition to a second independence referendum, Robertson's Moray constituency was the closest to backing Leave in the referendum in all of Scotland. In addition ,the SNP's vote share was down from 50% to 37%, despite Scotland voting by 62% to Remain in the EU.

Almost all the Scottish North East fishing communities went Conservative - including a gigantic 20% swing in Banff and Buchan, the 2nd largest swing in the entire country behind Alex Salmond's loss in Gordon. A big factor here would surely be the damage caused to these communities by the EU Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). During the Scotland election campaign Sturgeon even felt she had to commit to somehow renegotiating the CFP with the EU.

Remainer Ben Gummer lost his Tory seat in Ipswich. He wrote the Conservative manifesto, had passionately backed Remain and was apparently in line to take over EU/UK negotiation duties from David Davis.

Vote Leave's Andrea Leadsom, Theresa May's vanquished leadership rival, got 62% of the vote. Leadsom was a high profile Vote Leave campaigner, appearing in most of the TV debates.

Brexiteer Kate Hoey retained her seat in London Vauxhall, even increasing her majority from 12K to 20K. Vauxhall voted to Remain in the EU by 70%+. Hoey was a prominent Leave campaigner who even appeared alongside UKIP's Nigel Farage when most Tory or Labour MP's wouldn't, which made her a top Lib Dem target they failed to dislodge.

A significant % of UKIP's collapse in support went to Labour, rather than entirely to the Conservatives. This would only have happened if they felt Labour was also endorsing at least most aspects of Brexit.

Overall, the 2017 General Election appear to point towards the UK continuing to back the referendum result of 23 June 2016.