By the time you read this I hope you’ll have done your duty and voted.
I know it’s the third general election since 2014 and you can throw in a referendum too. Brenda from Bristol ought to be in rehab by now but hopefully this will be the last for a long time.
If the Tories do get the slender majority most experts predict with four days to go as I write, the second act of Boris’s new government – after getting the Withdrawal Agreement through parliament so we actually formally leave the EU – will be to abolish the ludicrous Fixed-term Parliaments Act.
It’s not only the act that meant Jeremy Corbyn could avoid having an election even though he leads a party that has been in opposition for nine years; it is also why we had to endure six weeks of utterly tedious and unedifying political scrapping. Ted Heath called an election in 1974 and named the election day three weeks later. That should be standard from now on for all our sakes.
That Tory majority the bookies were assuming was, however, never a foregone conclusion. Our first-past-the-post system can throw up some strange results. In 2015, the SNP won 56 seats on 1.4 million votes, while Nigel Farage’s UKIP polled 3.9 million votes and got one MP. Having polled 12% of the national vote, they might have expected to win about 80. It’s a stark example of how a national lead in the polls can mean very little.
So this time around, the Tories could beat Dennis Skinner in Bolsover while Labour could hold Kensington where it currently has a majority of 20. You’ll see the Tories in particular win seats they never expected to win and lose seats they never expected to lose. If the Tory lead over Labour is under 8%, the Tory high command will be chewing their fingers off. A lead of 10% will probably be enough. My personal view is they’ll have an overall majority of between 20 and 30, but I could be horribly wrong.
If Boris stays in No. 10, sterling will rise. Corbyn will have to consider his position, which is a nice way of saying he’ll be a dead man walking. Expect John McDonnell to take over as acting leader and Rebecca Long-Bailey to be his shadow chancellor. There’ll be a formal leadership election after the summer.
Jo Swinson will have to consider her position too. It’s not great when all the polls suggest the more people saw of her, the less they liked her, and her stance on Brexit has upset a lot of the party faithful.
Farage will be – indeed already is – the biggest loser, having seen his Brexit party completely implode. When your own MEPs tell voters to vote Conservative you know you’re in a car crash. The man who more than anyone else pushed the Brexit agenda probably deserved better, but politics is a ruthless game and his decision to put candidates up in the very seats the Tories needed to win was seen as the triumph of ego over conviction.
Once the dust settles, Boris will reshuffle his cabinet. If true to form, he’ll surround himself with decent people because that’s his style. He’s not a detail man. In London he relied on loyal Tories like Simon Milton, Sir Ed Lister, Stephen Greenhalgh and Kit Malthouse. But neither is he a hard right-winger. He may be a chancer and a self-indulgent charlatan but he has always been a One Nation Tory.
Whether he’ll see the parliament through to its end and perhaps even beyond remains an open question. My hunch is he probably won’t. But if by then we have a new relationship with Europe and our economy is thriving, he’ll have earned an unlikely but deserved place in our history. Now crack open the Champagne or book that flight to Lisbon or Zurich.
Steve Norris is chairman of Soho Estates and This Land