By Cameron Taylor

After one month of campaigning, British voters finally head to polls. A variety of issues are at stake including healthcare, climate and, of course, Brexit. Meanwhile, party leaders face less than ideal approval ratings.


It is polling day in the United Kingdom. All parties, from the left to the right, hope to gain seats as no one party holds a majority.

The UK’s first election to be held in December - or winter in general - since 1923, many questions still remain; questions about Brexit, the climate, the NHS and even the integrity of the Union. Today we find the answers in what some are calling the country’s most important election recent decades




It almost feels as though that this is the season finale of an eventful year in British politics. This same time last year, then Prime Minister Theresa May had her Brexit deal rejected by Parliament and narrowly won a vote of no confidence. Since then, her deal was rejected two more times with Brexit beginning delayed three times from its original date in March.


After a double whammy of May’s resignation and her party’s poor EU Parliament election performance, the controversial Boris Johnson was elected as Prime Minister. His opponents allege his biggest achievements so far have been an unconstitutional suspension of Parliament and a new Brexit deal that also failed to pass. He subsequently lost his party’s majority after number of Conservative MPs resigned, were expelled or defected to the Liberal Democrats.

At this point, Brexit was pushed back yet again from 31 October 2019 to 31 January 2020. The new deadline came with an option to leave sooner if a deal passed through parliament in what then European Council President Donald Tusk called a ‘flextension’.


This culminated in Mr Johnson pushing for a new general election. Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, two thirds of MPs need to vote in favour of a new vote, which the he failed to get. He did however successfully pass a “one-off” bill that allowed him to work around the Act which did pass.




Many issues are on people’s minds in this vote. Like every election, however, some have stood out more than others.

With failed deals and delays to the original deadline, it has surprised no now that Brexit has been one of if not the key issues of this campaign.

“Membership of the European Union obviously enables us to tackle emergency more efficiently”, said Tom Inglis, Liberal Democrat candidate for the Edinburgh South West Constituency. “As the largest economy in the world, it has the sway and the power to help influence what products and services are sold within it.”

“What people want to talk about are those issues that really matter,” Callum Laidlaw, Conservative candidate for the same constituency as Inglis. “I think this election needs to be about politicians realising the endless arguments about the Constitution are not allowing us to focus on what matters to most people.”

Edinburgh South West current held by the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) Joanna Cherry. It is a marginal seat only won by Cherry by only 2% in 2017. Naturally many parties are eyeing to take this seat from Mrs Cherry.

Every candidate for the Conservative Party in this election have vowed to vote in favour of Prime Minister Johnson’s withdrawal agreement. In other words, the Conservatives only need a majority of one seat to implement Brexit.

Nigel Farage is back in this vote, now leading the aptly named Brexit Party. His party is not running in 317 seats won by the Conservatives in 2017 to encourage pro-Brexit voters to tactically support Johnson’s party and implement his deal.

“We have created a leave alliance”, said Farage when announcing the decision. “We’ve just done it unilaterally!”


Climate is another big issue discussed throughout the campaign with all the major parties proposing ways of tackling the ‘climate crisis’.

“I think this is the first election that we've had where people are actually talking about climate change”, said Ben Parker, Scottish Green Party candidate also running Edinburgh South West. “It's not just about tackling climate change in an abstract sense. It's about doing so to make people's lives better.”


Despite having a proposal for Brexit, Labour has been focusing more on healthcare in this campaign.

“The NHS has been lacerated by Tory austerity really deeply damaged in Scotland though it hasn't been helped by the SNP’s mismanagement”, Sophie Cooke, Labour candidate, said. “There's a huge problem and I know a Labour government there would be an extra 2 billion coming up to the Scottish NHS.”

In a break from previous votes, the Conservatives are now promising higher spend in the public sector too. Their manifesto states they will spend an extra £20-25 billion pounds mainly in infrastructure.




Another defining feature of this election is how all the party leaders are seemingly universally unpopular.

A poll conducted by Sky News and YouGov halfway through the campaign showed that all party leaders had approval ratings below 50%. Johnson had a favourability rating of only 43% whilst Corbyn, Liberal Democrat Leader Jo Swinson and Brexit Party Leader Nigel Farage had ratings in the mid-20s.

Scottish First Minister (FM) and SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon was most popular of the party leaders with 47% holding favourable views on her. Even then her non-favourability rating was 48%.


“Jo's very passionate about politics and solving these issues like the climate emergency and Brexit, but it's difficult as a younger woman”, Tom Inglis said about his party leader.

The Liberal Democrat’s pro-EU stance has not been as popular as some people thought it would have been. Many point to Swinson’s low ratings as part of the reason.

“I think people are very sick with politics and politicians in general. I think there's a huge lack of trust”, Callum Laidlaw said. “I think it's a real challenge for anybody in politics at the moment to try and cut through because a lot of people just don't believe in politicians.”


“They are all as bad as each other, to be honest”, said Emily, a student at Heriot-Watt University just outside Edinburgh. “There are maybe some who fractionally less.”

“I think that Jeremy Corbyn, while he has the right ideas, is out of touch with the public”, said Colin, also a Heriot-Watt student.

Jeremy Corbyn touched on this issue when asked if his party would fare better in the vote without him as leader in a Labour press conference.

“I think Marmite is really good for you. Some people like it, some people don’t”, said Mr Corbyn referencing the polarising British breakfast condiment. “I lead the party and I’m proud of the manifesto we’ve got!”




Some have expressed concern that the results of this election could trigger the breakup of the Union.

The SNP are using the opportunity to campaign for a second independence referendum for Scotland.

“Brexit has destabilised the Union”, Joanna Cherry said. “I support a second independence referendum, because it is the only way to ensure that Scotland can determine its constitutional future.”

The other candidates of Edinburgh South West though seem optimistic about Britain’s future.

“There is a problem that Scotland voted one way and yet we [are leaving the EU]”, Sophie Cooke said. “If we stay in a federal UK that we can get a better deal. Whatever happens with Brexit.”


Will the Union breakup after the vote? Who will be Prime Minister by tomorrow morning? Britain holds its breath in anticipation for the results which shall be revealed tonight when the polls close at 10pm.


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