UK General Election 2019
The United Kingdom (UK) will be holding a General Election on 12 December 2019. The election was called because the Conservative Government (elected in 2017) failed to achieve its goal of taking the UK out of the European Union (also known as Brexit). This will be the fourth General Election (GE) since the financial crash of 2007-08. For those unfamiliar with the UK political scene here is a brief overview:
- 2010: GE led to a Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition which launched a radical right-wing programme of cuts in public service and attacks on basic human rights (this programme is often referred to as Austerity, and it is still on-going).
- 2015: GE led to a slim Conservative majority Government after the Conservative Prime Minister promised a referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union (EU) in order to pacify pressure within the right-wing of his own Party, and the electoral threat of the UK Independence Party (UKIP).
- 2016: the Brexit Referendum decided by a slim majority that the UK should leave the EU. The result surprised the political elite and the Prime Minister resigned. [Unfortunately those advocating this 'leave' position never articulated what kind of exit from the EU they were seeking; there was no serious discussion of this policy before the Referendum and so the 'leave' option has remained highly ambiguous.]
- 2017: the new Prime Minister, Theresa May, called a snap election hoping to increase her majority ahead of her negotiations with the EU. Instead, the unexpected success of the Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn, saw the Conservative party lose their majority. They then had to rely on Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in order to govern. This made the task of negotiating a deal even more difficult, because the DUP would not accept a deal that would treat Northern Ireland differently to the other three countries of the UK.
- 2019: by October, the Conservative Party had consistently failed to agree any deal with the EU that was also acceptable to Parliament. Eventually the Party dismissed their leader and replaced her with Boris Johnson, who promised to "die in a ditch" if the UK had not left the EU by the 31st of October. However in his renewed negotiations with the EU he only succeeded in alienating the DUP by dividing the UK along the Irish Sea. This terminated any possibility that he could get a deal agreed with the EU that would be acceptable to Parliament.
Today the UK is in a very uncertain and divided situation:
- Some people passionately believe that the most important issue for the UK is that we leave our trade and political alliance with other European nations.
- Some people passionately believe that the most important issue for the UK is that we remain a member of the European Union.
However a large number of people are more concerned with the deterioration in the state of the nation, the attacks on public services, weak social rights and the increasingly obvious flaws in our constitution.
The UK's electoral system (first-past-the-post) adds a further uncertainty to the situation. It is very unclear what will happen next and while currently the Conservative Party is ahead in the opinion polls recent history suggests that public opinion can change very quickly.
The Centre for Welfare Reform is an independent think tank. Fellows come from several different political perspectives. However to us it is clear that:
- Justice must return - recent right-wing governments have stripped away rights, damaged lives and communities and created much of the fear and insecurity which underlies the Brexit vote.
- Peace demands connection - countries must work together, borders should be opened, refugees must be given safe haven and wider global injustices must be tackled.
- Democracy is essential - we need a world of equal citizenship, where people can make democratic decisions together, as equals.
- Nature must be protected - politics is meaningless if we cannot take care of the planet which we share together. We must focus international efforts on limiting climate change and protecting the diversity of plant and animal life.
The Centre supports the work of Citizen Network which is encouraging everyone to vote. Especially those who face discrimination and disadvantage. For resources on voting visit:
The Centre has published many resources on how to create a better and fairer world. We have also tried to keep track of the harm caused by austerity by sharing resources in our online library at:
And, we have recently published ‘Second Class Citizens’, a major analysis of austerity and its impact on disabled people:
Please use or share any of our materials in the interests of justice, peace, democracy and the natural world.