Author Archives: Julian Gregory

There is a window of opportunity to influence the PM’s Brexit strategy

This extraordinary election result has given us plenty to discuss, but one urgent topic concerns the implications for Brexit, the biggest issue of the day.

The next few days are going to be critical. Negotiations with the EU are due to start in little more than a week, and the Prime Minister is likely to be re-evaluating her negotiating strategy as you read this.

It is easy to say why she should re-evaluate: she went into the election saying that she wanted a mandate to implement her approach to Brexit, and the public hasn’t given it to her.

In reality though, her next move is likely to be dictated less by this and more by the practical constraints on her, which are great.

Clearly she now needs DUP support to maintain a majority in Parliament. The DUP are anxious to avoid a hard border with Ireland, which would be easier if we remained in the customs union. But the DUP’s demands will probably fall short of requiring that we remain in the single market.

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Opinion: We need a positive and distinct liberal identity. And then we must burn it into the consciousness of the electorate.

Voters have rewarded parties with strong, positive messages and punished those with more equivocal positions.

The two clear winners of the election were the Tories and UKIP, which more than quadrupled its share of the national vote compared to 2010.

Most voters pay very little attention to politics, but even they knew what these two parties stood for.  Vote Tory for an economic plan that is working and to avoid instability under Labour and the SNP.  Vote UKIP to cut immigration and reclaim our national sovereignty.

Labour and the Lib Dems, the two main losers, both had messages that were in some sense equivocal.

Labour spent five years vacillating between the Blairite centre ground and being the party of the Left that Ed Miliband clearly wanted it to be.  And in the pressure of an election campaign, it settled for being an ‘austerity lite’ option, reluctant to confirm that it would spend more than the Tories.

The Lib Dems deliberately chose an equivocal message. We said that we wouldn’t focus only on the economy or on addressing inequality, but rather would do a bit of both.  And we defined ourselves by reference to the two main parties and largely negatively; we aren’t cruel like the Tories, and we won’t trash the economy like Labour.

Posted in Op-eds | Tagged and | 96 Comments

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