The UK’s general election: a fundamental change to UK/EU relations?

The result of the current British election campaign could be crucial for the future of the UK’s relations with the European Union. Every UK-wide election party which is likely to win seats in the election has now released its election manifesto, namely: the Conservatives;Labour; Liberal Democrats; UKIP; and the Greens. It’s therefore a good time to examine what the parties are saying about the EU, and what the various post-election scenarios would mean for the UK’s relations with the EU.

According to pollsters, at present the most probable outcome of the election is that no party will have an overall majority, although there is a small possibility that either the Labour party or the Conservative party will obtain enough seats for a majority. In the absence of a majority, either the Conservative party or the Labour party will try to obtain enough votes to govern from other parties, which are likely to include parties running in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. So it’s necessary to consider what these other parties’ view on the EU is, and (more indirectly) whether they are likely to support Labour or the Conservatives in office.

Of these parties, only the Welsh Plaid Cymru has released its manifesto already, but I will refer to the other parties’ positions to the extent that they have been announced to the press: the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). I won’t discuss Sinn Fein, since it will not take up its seats in Parliament, or the Northern Irish Social Democratic and Labour Party, since it sits and votes with the UK-wide Labour party.

Party manifestos

There’s a lot in the manifestos that touches upon EU-related policy. For instance, the Liberal Democrats promise a ‘Digital Rights Bill’, which is closely related to EU laws on data protection and net neutrality. EU law also has a big impact on environmental law, consumer law and some other policies ...

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