British Politics - Statistics & Facts

Modern British politics has undoubtedly been dominated by the issue of Brexit, following the result of the UK’s referendum to withdraw from the European Union in 2016. The 2017 general election was in many ways a reaction to Brexit, an attempt by the Conservative Party to increase their majority in parliament and strengthen their hand in the Brexit negotiations. The Prime Minster, Theresa May, did return to power, but with a reduced number of seats in the House of Commons. May's pyrrhic victory in that election was followed by almost two years of constant instability, which saw May gradually lose political capital as she attempted to get her unpopular Brexit deal approved by parliament three times in early 2019. Her inability to do so led to her resignation, and the rise to power of Boris Johnson, who would go on to decisively win the 2019 general election, and achieve his goal of taking Britain out of the European Union on January 31, 2020. Any honeymoon period that Johnson may have had was soon shattered by the Coronavirus pandemic, with the first UK cases reported on the very same day that Britain left the EU.

While the United Kingdom is technically still a monarchy, and also has an unelected upper-house in the form of the House of Lords, the true center of executive and legislative power lies in the House of Commons. The 650 Members of Parliament (MPs) that sit in the UK’s House of Commons represent 650 electoral areas called constituencies. Voters in the UK elect an MP for their constituency who will sit in parliament to stand for both local and national interests. Almost all MPs belong to political parties, the largest of which are center-right Conservative Party and the center-left Labour Party. If one single party can win 326 or more seats in a general election, it will be able to form a government by virtue of having a simple majority in the House of Commons. The leader of the party who wins the most MPs usually goes on to become the Prime Minister, although these leaders must also win the constituency they represent, just like any other MP.

As of April 2020, 78 percent of the British public thought that pandemics and diseases, were the most important issue facing the country, following three years of Brexit dominating the nation's headlines. At the end of that same month the UK had experienced over 26 thousand deaths due to the COVID-19 disease, with the true death toll likely to be far higher. As the country emerges from the tragic public health crisis caused by Coronavirus, it must now face up to the economic consequences of the lockdown, at the same time it is negotiating a new relationship with the EU.

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British Politics

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