It should be obvious to most by now, that Brexit has become a closed and shut case amongst the voters; an abandoned conversation that no one wishes to return to because more pressing matters call.
On announcing this election Theresa May said that this election was the ‘Brexit election’. She spoke of the country being united behind her Brexit plans, but that Westminster wasn’t. It was unclear what she meant, after all 48 per cent of the electorate last June were not behind Brexit. Since the referendum, polling has shown a movement of voters from Remain towards conservative support. Despite this, both the Conservatives and the Lib Dems hoped the referendum would still be the dividing line in British politics.
Instead, the people have, yes, united over Brexit and moved on. It’s Westminster who are still banging on about an issue many see as dead. That doesn’t mean however that the electorate no longer see Brexit as important, on the contrary. But the key difference is, the electorate don’t see it as something that will determine their vote. The majority of voters whom I have spoken with see Brexit as definitive, and ready to happen.
For the voters this election will be decided on the bread and butter of election issues: wages, housing and leadership.
And this is why Theresa May and the Lib Dems have floundered.
For the Lib Dems, they have squandered their first chance of a fightback because they misread the electorate; choosing to focus on Brexit to attract Remain voters.
For the Conservative Party, May chose to advocate her support for Brexit to try and win over Labour leavers, thus ambitiously targeting northern seats like my local Scunthorpe.
Scunthorpe should never vote Conservative. It’s a town built on the steel works, which influences almost every voter in the town. Everyone knows someone who works there. It should be solid red. Instead, it has dropped in Labour support because of Jeremy Corbyn and the personal appeal of Theresa May’s leadership.
However as the campaign has gone on, voters have changed their minds. This dramatic volatility of voters is something relatively new in British politics. They still see Corbyn as weak, but now also regard May as untrustworthy. For May to win over labour voters, they needed to trust her first. She has blown that.
That’s why we are now seeing the Tories change their tactics; they are looking to hold on to their back garden strongholds, explaining the change in the posters and billboards focusing again on the party rather than May herself.
The May brand worked well in Labour areas, but not blue seats, which the Tories are now looking to retain.
This has been an election where May has blown her chance of turning the Conservatives from being a party of the south. I doubt May will blow the election entirely, though. She may not take Scunthorpe, but I believe she will make minor, vital gains to increase her majority. I predict she will increase her majority to about 50-80 seats.
On that result though, Theresa May will have lost and Jeremy Corbyn will have won. Or rather, the voters will have won, pinning what this election was truly about. May’s failure comes down to one thing: she lost control of the narrative. The Brexit narrative has disappeared, as has May’s credibility as leader.