The political world is in an unprecedented and exciting state. But, as future lawyers, it is important for us also to consider the legal aspects of recent developments. With recent controversial judicial rulings, the election of a new House of Commons speaker, and the confirmation of a sudden general election, it is difficult to keep track. Thus, over the next few weeks, you should check back in on TSL to see our updates on the current relationship between law and politics in this series.
As the December vote is now less than a month away, the imminent election and its potential legal impact is a good place to start when analysing the political sphere. From policy pledges to the ever-confusing debates around ‘Brexit’, the law is constantly affected by the decisions of our politicians.
After receiving another Brexit extension from the EU until January, the PM wished to speed up the Brexit process and, realising that he needs a majority in the House of Commons to ensure his deal passes (and passes quickly), he decided to call an election. In October, following a number of failed attempts, MPs agreed to a 12th of December vote.
The Conservatives: Boris Johnson’s main aim is to quickly pass the Withdrawal agreement that he has negotiated with the EU – with the initial framework being set out by his predecessor Theresa May.
The Labour Party: Though Labour is divided, the general aim of Leader Jeremy Corbyn and leading members of the Party is to maintain a close relationship with the EU should the UK leave – notably by staying in the Customs Union.
The Liberal Democrats: Since 2016, the Liberal Democrats have been the party most associated with ‘Remain’, and for the upcoming election, their policy has not changed. If elected as a majority government, leader Jo Swinson vows to hold a second referendum on the UK’s place in the EU, in which the Party would campaign to stay.
While Brexit is important, statistics have proved that it is not the only thing on the public’s agenda; for example, the environment, employment and education are constantly subject to debate. Moreover, it is essential to consider the ideas of smaller parties, as recent elections and discontent with traditional politics have evidenced a move away from the two-party system we are familiar with.
The Conservative Party – charging single-use plastics: We have all become more aware of the detrimental impact our current lifestyles have had on the environment. Additionally, anti-climate change campaign groups have become more active in spreading their message. Thus, political parties have attempted to deliver the solutions to our climate problems – with the Conservatives pledging to charge all single-use plastics.
The Labour Party – four-day working week: Recent reports by the Office of National Statistics have shown that workplace productivity in the UK has reached a plateau in recent years, despite technological and communication advances that have made the working week less strenuous. In response, the Labour Party has pledged to introduce a four-day working-week, going back to the traditional roots of the Party by also suggesting that Trade Unions would be largely involved in adapting this new policy to various work sectors. Opposers have claimed that this would place a great burden on the NHS, increasing costs as more medic would have to be employed to cover the 24-hour care required.
The Green Party – scrap university tuition fees: University fees have long since been a cause of frustration for students across the UK, with high costs leading to the stress of having to repay loans or even putting young people off applying to university altogether. Thus, as a method of encouraging access to, and equality in, higher education, the Green Party aims to scrap university tuition fees.
The above breakdown displays how the worlds of law and politics can intertwine, and reminds us, as lawyers, that the motives and views going into the making of law are just as important as the final product.
For those who want to know more, be sure to check back in next week for an analysis of the legal role of the House of Commons speaker, as well as a profile on the latest politician to take this seat.