This is the time of year I try to forecast likely events in the year ahead and based on previous years my ‘crystal-ball’ gazing has been reasonably accurate.
The Brexit process will clearly continue to play a major role during 2017. Whether or not the Government’s stated timetable of formally moving Article 50 of the European Treaty by the end of March is achieved, largely depends on a Supreme Court ruling during the coming month. Whichever way the ruling goes, I would still predict Article 50 will be activated during the year although fresh legal challenges are likely.
It does seem to me these legal challenges over Brexit are causing something of a constitutional crisis, in that they bring into question whether it is a democratically elected government that runs the UK, or the courts. For any government irrespective of their political persuasion, it would be a untenable position for every decision they may make to be open to legal challenge, and I foresee possible legislative moves to curb the power of the judiciary in determining what a government may or may not do.
January 20th also sees the US President elect Donald Trump taking office. Although US politics are a matter for the US, the fallout of any policy change is likely to effect the rest of the world. Judging by statements being made by Donald Trump, it is clear that whatever new policies he actually proposes, his administration will be like that of chalk and cheese when compared with the current policies of the outgoing Obama administration. The ripples of these changes will most definitely reverberate around the world and will be felt by many including the UK.
Numbers of European countries are due to hold elections during 2017 including France and Germany. Both of these countries have been heavily effected by large immigrant influxes over the past two years, which may well have a considerable bearing on how electors in those countries vote. The present incumbent President Hollande has announced he will not be seeking re-election and it is possible a new president of a different political persuasion and outlook could be elected.
Although the current German President Angela Merkel is likely to retain power, a current wave of unpopularity in Germany may well see her support and therefore her influence much less than at present.
In the UK, as to which way the wind is blowing in terms of support for any given political party remains unclear. Many traditional Labour supporters feel they are between a rock and a hard place at the moment, with many unhappy at f the stance Labour took on the Brexit referendum and many are equally unhappy at either the leadership or the stance their MP’s took at supporting or rather, not supporting the Labour leader. One things always rings true in politics, a divided party which Labour appears to be at the moment do not win votes.I still sense a feeling of public unease with the Lib/Dems and although UKIP are still likely to attract disaffected voters for the time being, I do not sense any great public appetite for this party.
Apart for any by-elections that may occur, the next litmus test of public political opinion will be the local County Council elections in May. Issues like proposed three weekly refuse collections are likely to weigh heavily, but often public support on national issues have a way of deciding support for the composition of local councils. Incumbent governments usually lose some support in the form of protest votes in local elections. However with a new Prime Minister in the Form of Teresa May who still seems to enjoy a good measure of public support, I would predict the Tory Party will probably retain the councils they currently hold and may well increase that number.