They were the elections we were never meant to have and yet despite assurances from Theresa May, here we are gearing up to the European Elections in May. It has hardly been the slick operation that party machines strive for during elections. Chaos would perhaps be the best word to describe the current state of the run up to the elections, with parties scrambling to find candidates to field. The three parties which have dominated British politics find themselves fading into the background, with two parties that didn’t even exist three months ago – ChangeUK and the Brexit Party – grabbing the headlines and tipped to come out of the elections on top.
Given the hastily put to together candidate lists the country is seeing a bizarre array of candidates across the board with former Conservative Minister Ann Widdecombe standing for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party and Boris Johnson’s sister standing for pro-Remain ChangeUK. Already two ChangeUK candidates have been forced to step down due to previous racist and sexist tweets. The issue is that parties, who had never expected to have to put candidates up for this election, simply haven’t had time to properly vet their candidates and those selected are under far more scrutiny than MEP candidates have been in the past.
The danger of these chaotic, unforeseen elections is that many will see them as an opportunity to hold a proxy-referendum on Brexit, one of the reasons that has given Change UK and the Brexit Party their current prominence. A victory for either side will be seen as a mandate to either crash out of the EU with no deal or halt Brexit all together. Whichever side “wins”, this will only serve to deepen the schisms that have opened up in British politics. If it was hard to get an agreement in Parliament before, it will be next to impossible when one side feels they have a mandate from the people to dig their heels in.
As for Theresa May, she will just be hoping to come out of this still Prime Minister…