07 November 2019, The Tablet

The break-up of the UK would represent a sad coda for the Queen

The break-up of the UK would represent a sad coda for the Queen

General elections, of their very nature, are technicoloured affairs; politics on steroids. They are kaleidoscopic rather than primary coloured (in contrast to the choices posed by referendums) and therefore unpredictable in terms of which issues will run and in what directions. The one certainty is that Brexit will drench the electorate with its drearily predictable and profoundly destabilising cataracts.

Yet beyond the familiar there always lurks the dark matter of politics, which conceals the unanticipated and the surprising until they burst through into the arc-lit hustings. Already the one shared expectation of the 2019 election, from the very moment the House of Commons fixed 12 December as polling day, is that in party terms it will be the most volatile and fluid in anybody’s memory.

Prediction, therefore, is even more perilous than usual. But it is fair to say that in the long sweep of British political history, this will be a truly heavily freighted election in terms of its enduring significance. How the European question plays out, not just in what could be the United Kingdom’s withdrawal phase but also through the negotiation of the future trade relationship with the EU 27 during the 2019-24 Parliament, could not be more fundamental.

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