May 7th brought about what was widely predicted to be the closest general election in 50 years, with commentators suggesting that a hung parliament was unavoidable and another coalition inevitable. But the votes are in and the ‘shy Tories’ have struck again, with Cameron’s party defying the polls and scraping a majority for the first time in 20 years.
Yes, this result has surprised us all, not least Mr. Cameron himself who I have no doubt is over the moon at this unexpected triumph. However, now that the dust has settled and the champagne has dried up, I do wonder if the reality of what is ahead of him in the next five years might have somewhat sobered him up.
This new Tory government must now face the two hugely destabilising issues of Scotland and the EU, whilst simultaneously (to use what may have been the most over-used phrase of the entire election campaign) “balancing the books”. Indeed, the remnants of our fragile union with Scotland desperately need to be salvaged and rebuilt, which may prove rather cumbersome given the SNP’s landslide victory in Scotland. More worrying though, surely, is the uncertainty of the outcome of a referendum with regards to our membership in the EU.
In order to appease Eurosceptics and regain the support of right-wing backbenchers within his party, Cameron has loudly promised a renegotiation of Britain’s position within the EU. Reform of this partnership is clearly necessary, however his second promise of an in-out referendum before the end of 2017 is concerning.
Given the wide-spread dissatisfaction among the citizenry of this country, it is hardly surprising that the minds of voters who desperately seek somewhere to place blame for their hardship have been rendered dangerously malleable. Clearly a large portion of the country has been manipulated into adopting a fiercely Eurosceptic outlook, but do we really want to risk Britain’s prosperity simply to appease a certain right-wing party’s irresponsible demands? I would implore people to seriously consider whether an ‘out’ vote would actually fix the problems they believe our membership is causing, or whether in reality it would make our problems worse.
Despite its flaws, leaving the EU would have multiple and far-reaching negative consequences for Britain. Not least of all is the hugely destabilising and long-winded process of actually unravelling ourselves from the Union. And then, when we have eventually managed to divorce ourselves from our most vital trading partner, the economic ramifications will be a huge blow to our recovering country. On top of this, our international influence as a nation would be significantly reduced, and our strength on the world stage diminished.
I am all for citizens exercising their democratic right to vote on important issues, but the risk of an ‘out’ vote is substantial and these are terrifying prospects to have lingering on our little country’s horizon.
Evidently Cameron will have to stick to it if the people do vote ‘out’, rendering the future of our country uncertain but undoubtedly changed forever. Indeed, entering into the inevitable uneasiness of 2018, voters may well begin to regret their decision to boot out the moderating force of the Lib Dems. Even Cameron himself might look back on his coalition days, when his Eurosceptic backbenchers were subdued by his partners, with a certain air of nostalgia.
Image courtesy of Number 10 via Flickr