By Dewi Morris
Defining 2020 will, of course, be Brexit. Britain left the European Union on January 31 and the UK has now entered the transition period. This period is intended to last 11 months and so Brexit negotiations will continue to shape politics throughout the year. During this period, while the UK will remain in the EU’s single market and customs union and must abide by EU rules.
However, the UK will lose its seats in the EU Parliament and its right to vote. This is why the UK government is keen to exit the transition period before the end of this year. However, this will restrict the timetable for UK negotiations with the EU. At the moment, it is unclear what outcome Brexit will have by the end of the year. There are three likely results, these are: the UK will negotiate a trade deal with the EU which will be implemented, the UK will exit the transition period with no deal, or the transition period will be extended.
Labour + Liberal Democrat Leadership Contests
Another key event this year is the Labour leadership contest which is already underway. Labour’s defeat in the general election was its worst since 1935, it was no surprise therefore when Jeremy Corbyn announced shortly after the results, that he would stand down.
Leadership candidates have been scrutinised over the past month and are now narrowed down to four hopefuls: Sir Keir Starmer, who is currently by far the betting odds’ favourite, Rebecca Long-Bailey, Lisa Nandy and Emily Thornberry.
Labour’s next leader will be chosen by the party’s members and affiliates, who all have one vote each. The ballot opens on February 21 and the new leader will be announced on April 4. The challenge facing the new Labour leader will be enormous. If Labour are to re-gain seats in the next general election, due in 2024, it will be necessary for the leader to rebuild public trust and credibility in the Labour Party. A new Labour deputy leader will also be chosen in a separate contest this year.
A Liberal Democrat leadership contest will too take place in 2020 after Jo Swinson lost her seat in the General Election on December 12, 2019. Nominations will open on May 11 and a new leader will be announced after the ballot closes on July 15.
U.S. Presidential Elections
Outside of the UK, the world will be watching the US presidential election this year. Not only will the election’s result have global influence, but this election will be of particular relevance to the UK considering future trade relationships with the US after Brexit.
In the next months, Democrats will decide who will challenge Donald Trump. Out of the 28 Democrat candidates, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders are most likely to be chosen according to recent polls. The election will take place on November 3 and the new president, or returning incumbent, will start their term following the inauguration on January 20, 2021.
As a glance into the year, 2020 will not be far from quiet in terms of politics. This will no doubt be a year noted in the history books.