"A Very British Transition" - A Post-Junta Britain TL

On This Day - The 2023 Election, Part 2


Mordaunt had a few weeks to save her career

“Britain's opposition right-wing National Party won Monday's snap general election, but is set to fall short of a majority. National and Prime Minister Bell Ribeiro-Addy's UPA had 34.2% and 31.7% of the vote respectively, the results showed. This would give National, under leader Penny Mordaunt, 171 seats in the 497-seat lower chamber, the Congress of Deputies, and the UPA 159 seats. The result is likely to produce weeks of political jockeying, as National now requires support from junior parties. Even with the support of the far-right Centrists, which has offered to partner with National, the pair has only 234 seats secured, 15 seats short. But if that partnership is confirmed, it would be the first time a far-right party has entered government since the dictatorship ended.”
- UK election: National Party win but fall short of majority, DW News Bulletin (2023)

Penny Mordaunt had done well, but not well enough, National had picked up nearly 70 seats, mostly from Unity and the New Progressives as moderate and unionist voters voted tactically against the radical left government. The result was particularly disastrous with the party losing 32 of its 33 seats, with even party leader Andy Street losing his seat. The Social Democrats coalition with the UPA and electoral alliance with the GLM also seemed to be a mistake, as older working class voters in the party’s northern heartlands turned against the socially liberal and urban government of the last four years. Whilst a hung-parliament wasn’t ideal, international commentators argued the election represented a stabilisation of British politics with voters coalescing around a strong two party system for the first time in a decade.

In Scottish politics the result was a disaster for the separatist parties, for the first time since the start of the transition, separatists were not the largest party in Scotland’s Westminster delegation. The People’s Alliance secured the greatest victory for a UK wide party in Scotland in decades, winning nearly 40% of the vote by attracting soft nationalists and progressive loyalists alike. Despite this, the various Celtic parties were arguably in a stronger position than 2019 when they won a clear victory. Separatist parties look likely to play kingmaker, particularly if moderate separatist parties such as the SNP, Alba and Plaid could be persuaded to at least abstain in an investiture vote.

While National had over-performed the exit poll, taking first place from the People’s Alliance, the party was still a long way from a majority. Political gridlock seemed like the most likely outcome as neither obvious coalition bloc came anywhere near to forming a solid government. To make matters worse neither bloc had an overwhelming lead over the other, meaning no party leader could claim to be the Prime Minister in waiting. This meant the famous countdown clock towards a snap election began, and without any clear path to government some tricky parliamentary mathematics would be required. National had spent the election aiming for a landslide single party government, this meant they had spent much of the campaign burning bridges with the Centrists and other potential allies, bridges they would now need to rebuild.


UPA aides were split on whether to form a slim government, or push for a snap election

“Mordaunt's aggressive approach in the televised debate took Bell by surprise, placing her on the back foot and providing Mordaunt with momentum she squandered during the final week of campaigning. Challenged to correct an inaccurate statement on the record of previous National governments on pensions, Mordaunt dug in, only to issue a later clarification. Disparaging comments by Cleverly about Bell Ribeiro-Addy's makeup were also ill-advised. These gaffes allowed Ribeiro-Addy regained the initiative for the left bloc as the campaign drew to a close, putting her poor performance in the debate with behind her. Mordaunt's refusal take part in a debate alongside Reeves and Cleverly was an opportunity wasted rather than a risk averted. Mordaunt was keen not to appear on the same platform as Cleverly, who pointedly – and angrily – referred to the National leader’s absence.
” - Is the UK heading for another general election? Lecture by David Cutts, London School of Economics (2023)

Of course such a government would require concessions on Scottish Independence, and after being thoroughly punished at the ballot box for their support of Ribeiro-Addy’s Government, AFI and RISE would be eager to extract a high price. Alex Neil opened steep biding, announcing RISE would only support a party that gave full pardons (including political clemency) to fugitive politicians, and would consent to a full, legally binding referendum on Scottish independence, telling journalists “RISE won’t support Ribeiro-Addy for free”. This made a deal with the left-wing bloc difficult, and a deal with the right wing bloc - particularly the Centrists - virtually impossible.

The photo-finish election result put the King in a difficult position, as it was his prerogative to invite a party leader to have the first crack at forming a government. Traditionally this was the largest party - hence National - but the People’s Alliance argued Ribeiro-Addy had a clearer path to form a government, and thus she should be invited to take the first pass. Mordaunt’s bid to have the first go was further squashed as both the Northern Irish Liberals and Plaid Cymru announced they wouldn’t support a Mordaunt Government, with Plaid leader Jill Evans calling it a “ghost government”. Fear of a Centrist Government was enough to push several of the smaller parties into Bell’s hands, with Forward Wales announcing their support for a UPA Government unilaterally.


Fear of James Cleverly's handcore unionist programme was enough to push smaller parties in Bell's arms

National’s only option was to pull the votes of New Progressive dissidents away from the UPA bloc. Even a handful of right-leaning Progressives abstaining would be enough to deliver Mordaunt the slimmest of majorities. But such a deal would likely enrage the party’s right flank, backbenchers such as Johnny Mercer or Ben Wallace were allegedly quietly meeting with colleagues to discuss throwing Mordaunt overboard. Mordaunt’s approval rating among National voters had almost halved since the start of the election campaign, Former Leader William Hague was one of many voices condemning any attempt to “govern with the left”.

To howls of protest, King Charles invited Penny Mordaynt to Buckingham Palace, charging her with the formation of a new government and officially starting the race to Downing Street. The King justified this decision arguing that since neither party had been able to present him with a clear path to Downing Street, National’s position as the largest party meant they were entitled to the first try. More cynical commentators noted the republican leaning of many UPA leaders and accused Charles of putting his finger on the scales to tip politics away from the radical left. Even Mordaunt’s most ardent supporters confessed the investiture attempt was likely doomed, particularly after National’s Leader in Scotland, Stephen Kerr, said his 6 MPs would vote against any deal with separatists. The vote would instead offer Mordaunt a national media platform ahead of any snap elections.

“British King Charles on Tuesday nominated the leader of the conservative National Party, to face a parliamentary vote. The king made the decision after consulting representatives of all parties that won seats. "We will give a voice to the more than 12 million citizens who want change, stability and moderation" Mordaunt posted on X. Earlier on Tuesday, Bell Ribeiro-Addy said that she believed her UPA would be able "to gather the parliamentary support needed". For the first time, the Head of State has faced the unprecedented situation of having two aspirants to be nominated. The Palace issued a statement detailing the reasons for Charles III’s decision: "In all elections since the Cardiff Accords, the candidate that has obtained the largest number of seats has been the first to be proposed. This practice has become customary over the years”.” - British king nominates conservative Mordaunt for premiership bid, Reuters (2023)


Accusations of political interference continued to hound the Head of State
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2023 Election Detailed Results
2023 UK Election Breakdown
  • National Party: 171 (+65)
  • People's Alliance: 159 (+20)
    • People's Party
    • Socialist Alternative
    • Other Smaller Parties
  • The Centrists: 63 (-8)
  • New Progressive Alliance: 62 (-32)
    • Green Left Movement
    • Social Democratic Party
    • Other Smaller Parties
  • RISE: 9 (-7)
  • Action For Independence: 7 (-6)
    • Scottish National Party
    • Alba
    • Other Smaller Parties
  • Forward Wales: 6 (+1)
  • Plaid Cymru: 5 (-3)
  • Sinn Fein: 3 (-)
  • Continuity Ecology Party: 3 (+3)
  • Ulster Conservatives : 2 (-1)
  • Worker's Party of Scotland: 2 (-1)
  • Social Democratic and Labour Party: 1 (-1)
  • Northern Irish Liberals: 1 (-)
  • People's Anti-Imperialist Association: 1 (+1)
  • Rural Party: 1 (+1)
  • Unity: 1 (-32)
You'd almost feel sorry for Mordaunt, almost. The NPA is the only way for her to become PM, but her party do not want that so she's flat out of luck, I see another election coming soon.
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