A2 Global's Brexit Outlook: Labour Party seeks to gain momentum as election draws near

A2 GLOBAL’S BREXIT OUTLOOK: Labour Party seeks to gain momentum as election draws near

Latest General Election developments

  • With campaigning for the 12 December election in full swing, the latest opinion polls indicate a narrowing of the vote between the ruling Conservatives and the Labour Party. The Conservative Party remains well-ahead, however, with a 10-point lead over second-placed Labour.
  • Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn has tried to refocus his campaign to gain more ground against the Conservatives.
  • The 29 November terrorist attack in London that led to two fatalities shifted the debate on the issue of early release of convicted terrorists from prison. Prime Minister Boris Johnson blamed the terrorist’s early release on a policy introduced by the previous Labour government, which the Conservative leader said he opposed due to security concerns.
  • Today (6 December), Corbyn revealed a 15-page leaked document from the treasury department, which warns that the current Brexit agreement could ‘separate Northern Ireland in practice from whole swathes of the UK’s internal market’ and potentially mean border checks for goods from Northern Ireland entering the rest of the UK. The document also states that there could be tariffs for goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, while the economic impact in Northern Ireland of such an arrangement will likely cause price increases for consumers.
  • The leaders of the two main parties will take part in what could prove to be a crucial televised debate tonight.

Analysis

  • ​The Labour Party’s approach of trying to secure seats in vulnerable strongholds in northern England and the Midlands reflects efforts of trying to win over pro-Brexit voters. It seeks to do this by projecting the message that a Labour government will deliver on its promises of addressing inequalities and improve public services. Despite the popularity and wide appeal of the party’s promises, many voters continue to view Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn as a polarising figure. 
  • However, there have been positive news for the Labour campaign after YouGov published a poll on 3 December indicating that the party maintained a 17-point lead over the Conservatives in London, a key battleground. The YouGov poll also showed that Corbyn’s personal popularity in London has improved, while the Labour Party is performing well among the capital’s residents who voted for Brexit.
  • The treasury document’s revelation is well-timed to generate responses and amplify criticism over the government’s Brexit strategy throughout this weekend. Corbyn will seek to gain traction on this issue by making references to the leaked report during tonight’s debate.
  • Narrowing polls between the two main political parties indicates that smaller parties are set to perform worse than expected but could still play a key role in the formation of the next government. Recognising their poor performance in the latest polls, the Liberal Democrats have softened their approach towards Labour, indicating that they could work with the party in the event of a hung parliament.
  • While the Labour Party has published a manifesto containing many popular promises, including abolishing student fees, it was less well received from the business community. Comparatively, the Conservative Party election manifesto avoided making overly bold promises, pledging that there will be no increases to income tax, while plans to reduce the corporate tax to 17 per cent have been overhauled, with the current rate remaining at 19 per cent. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), an economic research organisation, has said that both parties’ spending policies were ‘not credible’.
  • In the run up to the elections, the Conservative Party will seek to consolidate its lead by reinforcing the message that it is the best-placed party to end the current uncertainty and political impasse over Brexit. The party’s campaign is confident that there is little voter appetite for more uncertainty – which will ostensibly be prolonged by a Labour government – ultimately helping Johnson secure a much-needed majority. This is especially the case as the publication of the treasury report will further alienate the Conservatives from their former allies, the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party.

Outlook 

  • Current projections are very much in line with the 2017 election, which saw the Liberal Democrats making limited gains and much of the seats split among the two main parties. 
  •  Undecided voters could shift the balance in this election, but this will largely depend on whether the Labour Party successfully broadens its appeal and mobilises significant support over the next week. 
  •  At present, our forecast for a Conservative Party majority after the election remains unchanged. However, the likelihood of this scenario will decrease if the Labour campaign garners significant momentum in the next few days and Corbyn’s personal popularity grows outside of the capital.