Column: A Vote For the Future Of Britain
By Ashutosh Mishra
London: In less than a week from now the people of Britain will be exercising their franchise to decide the future of the country, a future that seems to be hanging in the balance with a fierce debate still raging over Brexit. Prime Minister, Boris Johnson himself has described the December 12 poll as the “ most crucial election of modern times.”
Media has a tendency to hype up elections but this one does not need their skills to announce its importance. This country has never been so divided over a single issue–whether or not to leave the European Union (EU). Even the supporters of Leave are split over how to do it.
Johnson, an ardent Brexiteer who had once famously remarked that he would rather die in a ditch that extends the deadline for Britain quitting the EU, had to go back on his October 31 deadline. The promise could not be kept owing to divisions within his own party over his ‘deal or no deal’ threat. The majority wanted a deal and a good deal at that. It was under these circumstances that Johnson took the election gamble.
No wonder then that Brexit is the central theme of these elections to the extent that almost all the parties are fixated on it to the virtual exclusion of other issues. Johnson himself wants to get over with it to be able to focus on other pressing issues like and health and spiralling crime.
So the most important question in the minds of voters without an iota of doubt is what will happen to Brexit or rather when will it happen. A section of them are also talking about the future of the national health service (NHS) and the future of the industry. Some are even asking if the union of the United Kingdom can survive.
“ A lot of people will decide how they vote out of fear of the alternatives, rather than because they feel enthusiasm for what they are being offered,” wrote a leading newspaper adding that Johnson is concluding his campaign by “ trying to appeal to wavering voters by promising to return to a centrist, One Nation agenda — building on a Conservative manifesto which, were it not for Brexit, would see his party rooted firmly in the mainstream of politics.”
He has been making promises but the million-dollar question is whether he can turn them into reality. His last few months in office were marked by political turmoil even within his own party. He continues to face criticism from a section of his own colleagues including some Tory veterans who could queer his pitch.
Johnson, however, can take solace from the fact that his main rival, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn is not in a happy position either. While he has been battling charges of not being able to tackle anti-Semitism within his party, Labour’s support base even among the members of the Indian community, who constitute an important chunk of voters, seems to be shrinking. Opinion polls still show that Conservatives are ahead in the race but with the D Day still a few days away making predictions can be dicey.
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