From the cabinet to the opposition, here are seven politicians to watch out for in 2018.
1. Michael Gove
Gove has made a remarkable comeback in the past year. After leaving cabinet following the UK’s decision to exit the EU, Gove returned as the country’s environment secretary following Theresa May failed bid to win June’s election outright.
He has gained serious political capital in the past six months, which suggest that he is on an upward trajectory. According to a Conservative Home survey, Gove is minister of the year amongst Conservative members. Furthermore, he is the current favourite to replace Philip Hammond as chancellor, according to Ladbrokes. Could the chancellorship be one more step to Number 10 Downing Street?
2. Vince Cable
Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable has failed to make much of an impact this year. But with the Brexit drum beating louder than ever before, and the UK just one year away from exiting the EU, Brexit anxiety will likely increase, thus resulting in Cable rising to prominence. Cable and his party will likely capitalise on remain sentiment, but can he expand on that and turn the Liberal Democrats into more than just the anti-Brexit party?
Keep an eye on this one.
3. Angela Rayner
Labour’s shadow education secretary has risen quickly through the Labour ranks - having only first been elected in 2015. Jeremy Corbyn is unlikely to depart the leadership role anytime soon, but it can only do the Labour party good if he gives other key Labour figures more time in the spotlight. Most people can probably name the Tory cabinet's leading figures, but how many can do the same for Labour’s front-bench? Allowing party figures such as Rayner to take up more media time can only do the party good.
4. Henry Bolton
UKIP died a quick death in the run up to June’s election, and while full resurrection is unlikely, the party is likely to see a surge in support should Theresa May reach a deal that is widely perceived as a soft Brexit. A transitional arrangement that continues freedom of movement will provide UKIP with its best opportunity for a comeback. The party’s new leader is a smooth operator with a rich history. He’s no Nigel Farage, but moves towards a soft Brexit will only increase his standing.
5. Layla Moran
Vince Cable is an experienced leader, but with that experience comes baggage. He served as a minister in the coalition government, which links him with the Conservatives (although he was once a Labour councillor). On the other hand, Tim Farron, who remained out of the government when Nick Clegg led the party, managed to distance himself from the Conservatives, but struggled to make a major impact for reasons regarding his faith.
Due to Cable’s strong association with the coalition, the party will likely promote its other MPs alongside their leader. The former coalition minister, now deputy Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson will likely get increased air-time, but so to will the likes of Layla Moran and Christine Jardine, confident individuals that could provide the breath of fresh air the party desperately needs.
6. Richard Leonard
Newly elected Scottish Labour leader has only been in the job a couple of weeks, if history is anything to go by that is already a significant chunk of his time spent in power. Scottish Labour has a long history of short-serving leader, but can Leonard turn things around? 2018 looks set to be a make or break year for the socialist leader.
7. Jonathan Bartley
The Green Party of England and Wales’ co-leader moved closer to becoming a household name this year thanks to a heightened profile at the election, but it is Caroline Lucas who is the face of the party. Of course, considering Lucas is an MP, this is hardly surprising, but together and apart the Green party leadership have serious charisma and chemistry, which the party will surely utilise.
Bartley is a competent, charismatic individual who speaks well and has all the charm of a rebellious idealist. I would not be surprised if 2018 was used to promote Bartley, and thus raise the party’s profile after a year in which the party lost significant support to Labour.
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