This year was one of surprise and political intrigue. What could be in store for 2018?
1. Theresa May will leave Downing Street
After clinging on to power, Theresa May will leave Number 10 at some point in 2018. How? There are countless possibilities, but the most likely scenario is a challenge from a cabinet big-hitter over Brexit negotiations. Who? Boris Johnson and Michael Gove could team up again, or David Davis could have a second chance to become leader. One thing’s for sure:
It will not be Jacob Rees-Mogg.
2. The government will face more government defeats
With no majority, more government defeats are inevitable. The question is: can Labour capitalise on them?
3. But it will survive
The next election will be held before 2022, but 2018 is not the year for a new election. The DUP have managed to extract enough from the Conservatives they will continue to support them and Tory rebels will be whipped into shape if a no confidence motion is put forward.
4. There will be some significant by-election
However, the government’s majority (with the DUP) will probably diminish as a result of by-elections,which are an inevitable part of the political process, and if they take place in the right area, Labour and the Liberal Democrats could be soon set to make gains.
5. No cabinet reshuffle
Theresa May is weak. She will tinker around the edges and make changes when situations arise, but there will be no major re-stacking of the deck. It’s become a cliché, but May is a PM in name only.
6. Liberal Democrat surge
In 2018, as the UK edges close and closer to Brexit, the Liberal Democrats will make progress in the polls. The party won’t get back to the levels it polled at in 2010 or before, but as Brexit nears, the party will inevitably gain some support. Whether or not that translates into electoral success is a different issue.
7. A Brexit deal?
A Brexit deal will eventually be agreed and there will be no new referendum. There will be a transition period where very little, including membership of the single-market, changes, and the eventual final post-transition arrangement will be pushed into the long-grass.