UNITED KINGDOM (June 1, 2017) – Brexit, immigration key issues in UK election
The election could have significant consequences for how the U.K. will approach negotiations with the EU
IMPACT – MEDIUM
Voters will go to the polls June 8 in an election that could shape the United Kingdom’s immigration programs for years to come.
The U.K. is set to begin formal negotiations with the European Union on the U.K.’s departure from the EU after the country triggered Article 50 in March. Prime Minister Theresa May called the snap election in April, hoping to strengthen the Conservative Party’s majority and bolster her Brexit negotiating hand. May has sought to put Brexit at the heart of the campaign from the beginning, saying political “game-playing” threatened to undermine the U.K.’s break from the EU.
“Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit,” May said in April, “and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country.”
May’s once-commanding lead in the polls has narrowed significantly, however. And voters will now have their say on what path the government should take on Brexit and other immigration issues. The parties differ substantially on their positions.
The Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats all say they want to avoid a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland; however, depending on the election outcome, they may differ in their negotiating approach with the EU on this issue. The EU has also said it does not want a hard border with between Ireland and the U.K.
The U.K.’s smaller political parties are also using the election to advance their agendas. The Scottish National Party is campaigning to give Scottish voters the chance to leave the U.K. once the terms of the Brexit deal are known. The right-wing UK Independence Party is pushing for a “one in, one out” immigration policy, aiming to reduce net migration to zero in a five-year period.
BAL Analysis: The election could have significant consequences for how the U.K. will approach negotiations with the EU. May had hoped to solidify support behind her by calling for the snap election, but the move was risky. Even if May wins the election, if Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn puts up a better-than-expected showing, May’s negotiating position may not be strengthened and could even be weakened. BAL is closely following the election and particularly the potential Brexit and immigration consequences and will continue updating clients on important developments.
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