It has been said that Theresa May tactically called the snap election to secure her Brexit mandate with the majority of the country behind her. Whether or not this is the case, the general election on Thursday will be defined by Brexit. According to a recent YouGov poll, 63 per cent of Britons rank Brexit among the top 3 issues facing the UK.

With Theresa May believing that no deal is better than a bad deal and Jeremy Corbyn believing that no deal is the worst possible deal, it is not surprising that the issue of Brexit features heavily in all of the parties’ manifestos. This article will look at the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat manifestos, in particular considering the parties' plans for Brexit negotiations and the future of Britain post-Brexit.

The Manifestos

Conservatives

  • Will provide a strong and stable government to get the best Brexit deal and will deliver a smooth and orderly departure from the EU.
  • Will not allow a Scottish referendum to take place until the Brexit process has played out and don’t believe it should happen unless there is public consent.
  • Will ensure that the UK has control of its own laws.
  • Will control immigration and secure the entitlements of EU nationals in Britain and British nationals in the EU.
  • Will strive to maintain the Common Travel Area, with a “frictionless” border with Ireland.
  • Will leave the Single Market and Customs Union, and pursue new trade agreements.
  • Will not repeal The Human Rights Act or replace it while the process of Brexit is underway but the human rights legal framework will be considered after Brexit.

 Labour

  • The UK's economy and living standards will be put first.
  • The Conservatives’ Brexit White Paper will be replaced with fresh negotiating priorities that have a strong emphasis on retaining the benefits of the Single Market and the Customs Union.
  • Existing rights for all EU nationals living in Britain will be guaranteed and reciprocal rights for UK citizens living in EU countries will be secured.
  • The Conservatives’ Great Repeal Bill will be replaced with an EU Rights and Protections Bill that will ensure there is no detrimental change to workers’ rights, equality law, consumer rights or environmental protections as a result of Brexit.
  • No deal is the worst possible deal; it would damage economy and trade.

 Liberal Democrats

  • Against a hard Brexit and will prevent it.
  • Whatever deal is negotiated will be put to the vote in a referendum, with the alternative option of staying in the EU on the ballot paper.
  • Rights of EU and UK citizens will be protected by unilaterally guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals in the UK. The registration process for EU nationals to obtain permanent residence and UK citizenship will be overhauled and simplified, and the same rights for UK citizens living in EU countries will be secured.
  • Will retain membership of the Single Market and Customs Union.
  • Support the principle of freedom of movement, protecting the right to work, travel, study and retire across the EU.

Analysis

For the Conservatives 'Brexit means Brexit': they are seeking a clean exit and Theresa May wants a deal that will give Britain back control over its borders, reduce net migration and will provide access to the Single Market without accepting freedom of movement. The Conservative manifesto is for those looking for a hard Brexit.

Labour is looking for a 'jobs first' Brexit, that will safeguard Britain's industries and 'upgrade our economy for the 21st century'.

The Liberal Democrats are the only main party pledging to hold a fresh referendum on Brexit, which will be attractive to Remainers.

What is certain is that Brexit will play heavily on the minds of voters, but the deal that will be sought and the attitude to negotiations will most certainly differ depending on which party is successful in 3 days' time.