By Henry Srebrnik. [Saint John, NB] Telegraph-Journal
The Great Recession and mass immigration during the past decade upended traditional voting patterns in much of Europe, including the United Kingdom. The old left-right axis, which used to correlate with class, no longer matters much.
The anger displayed in 2016, when the British electorate voted to leave the European Union, brought these new divisions into sharp focus.
As Theresa May’s government proved unable to extricate itself from the EU’s embrace, angry Brexiteers started backing Nigel Farage’s upstart Brexit Party.
A Brexit candidate nearly won a parliamentary by-election in Peterborough in June, winning 29 per Cent and pushing the Tories into a poor third with less than half the vote they took just two years earlier.
And so we now have an unabashed Brexiteer, Boris Johnson, leading the Conservatives. He vows to depart Brussels come hell or high water.
Meanwhile, YouGov, the polling agency that accurately predicted the results of the 2017 vote, released its poll on Nov. 27. Over the previous seven days it interviewed approximately 100,000 people.
A technique called Multilevel Regression and Post-stratification (MRP for short)t used polling data to produce estimates for each of the 650 parliamentary constituencies that, YouGov states, has a 95 per cent accuracy rate.
The model predicts the Conservatives are on course for a sizable majority. They would win 359 seats, a gain of 42, on 43 per cent of the vote. Meanwhile, Labour, taking just 32 per cent, would lose 51 seats, down to 211.
But since the impetus for Brexit came from voters in England, the rifts with the other parts of the UK have widened.
The future of Northern Ireland has been a major Brexit sticking point. Because the fear that a hard border with the Irish Republic, which remains in the EU, would undermine the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the only solution Johnson could find involved putting a de facto customs border in the Irish Sea, separating the British mainland from Northern Ireland.
Ulster Protestants fear that if different rules apply to its relationship with the rest of the UK, this might become a slippery slope eventually leading to Irish unification.
Northern Irish Catholics are fervent “remainers,” of course, since they want that very thing and wish to keep the border as “soft” as possible.
If Brexit does occur, Scotland can be expected to hold another referendum on leaving Great Britain.Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish National Party leader and First Minister of Scotland, wants to stop Brexit, and calls Johnson “dangerous and unfit for office.”
In the 2014 independence referendum, 55 per cent of Scots voted to remain in the UK. In 2015, Sturgeon remarked that “something material would have to change,” before she would propose another referendum.
The “something” she referred to did indeed arrive in 2016 with Brexit, and Sturgeon has announced she wants another referendum on Scottish independence, perhaps as soon as next year.
The YouGov poll has the SNP looking to make gains on Dec. 12, taking five seats from Labour, two from the Conservatives and one from the Liberal Democrats, ending the night with 43 seats.
The deal that Boris Johnson finally struck with the EU could eventually lead to a united Ireland and an independent Scotland.