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London

UK politics: Can there ever be a return to business as usual? 

PR Manager Lauren Keith looks at the impact of the EU referendum on UK politics


July and August are supposed to be the time of year when email Inboxes are tidied up and lazy days on the beach beckon as the summer holiday approaches.

 

It's safe to say that the summer of 2016 has been an exception to that rule. It's a 24/7 job just to keep up with the breaking political and economic news and you have to spare a thought for the journalists who have probably not slept since the Referendum result.

 

Over the last few weeks business has been focusing on market activity and the reaction of investors to the decision to Brexit as they try and work out what the new normal will be.  There are clearly longer term questions, concerns and ideas about what our relationship with the EU should look like, but the result of the Referendum has also been a seismic event in UK politics which could change traditional party politics as we know it.

 

It's all starting to seem pretty topsy-turvy. Theresa May's first speech as Prime Minister was heavy with references to tackling vested interests and making Britain a country that 'works for everyone.' She has also been vocal in her belief that the Government should be able to take a more interventionist stance when it comes to foreign takeovers of UK firms. This could be construed as a land grab for Labour voters at a time when the Labour party's internal strife is mushrooming policy and direction. City AM's 'Who said it? Miliband or Tory?' game highlights the similarities in rhetoric between the new Conservative cabinet and the Labour leader who was dubbed 'Red Ed.'

 

As the complexities of the UK leaving the EU become clearer, it's obvious that the questions of what deal the UK strives for, and how we go about doing it, will have further potential to undermine the chimera of stability that the Government of Theresa May currently has in her current honeymoon period. Europe has been the issue splitting the Conservatives for decades, and competing visions for the future of the UK within the party may pose a threat to unity.  

 

Meanwhile if, as looks likely, Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected as leader of the Labour party it is not beyond the realms of possibility that the party will split. With a majority of Labour MPs passing a vote of no confidence in Corbyn a clear gulf has been exposed between the Labour Parliamentary Party and  wider membership. If an election is called either before 2020 or indeed in 2020, how will a divided party be able to unite under a common manifesto and message?

 

This raises the possibility of the formation of a progressive alliance. Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown has been in talks with Labour MPs about a new Centre Left Alliance and previous coalition heavyweight Vince Cable has also supported this. This is something that hasn't been ruled out  by Lib Dem leader Tim Farron (who also holds the crown for longest serving leader of a UK political party at just over a year...) The very fact that a party that suffered its worst defeat following its role in a coalition government only a year ago is contemplating another alliance, perhaps says all there is to say about the fundamental  changes that are occurring. The dividing lines between remain voters and leave voters cross the traditional red, blue and yellow lines and the political impact of this is starting to unfold.

 

Forget a week being a long time in politics ; at the moment it's an hour.