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  • Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May

    Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May | Photo: Reuters

Published 6 June 2017

Here is an overview of each party in the House of Commons and what they are putting forward to U.K. voters.

The United Kingdom’s political structure is a bicameral, parliamentary one, with a "first past the post" voting system for the lower house, called the House of Commons.

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In a general election, a person will vote for their local representative, with the candidate with the most votes winning to seat in the House of Commons. The party with the most seats will form government, and the leader of that party will become the country’s prime minister.

If one party wins more than half of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, they will have a majority government, which will allow them to legislate without the need for support from other parties. If the party with the most seats failed to win 326 or more, they will be in a minority position, and will have to look to build support from other parties for proposed laws or form a coalition government.

Here is an overview of each party in the House of Commons and what they are putting forward to U.K. voters.


Theresa May

Leader: Theresa May

Current Seats: 330

Main Platform: After taking over from David Cameron as leader of the Conservative Party, Theresa May had been riding high in polls and subsequently reneged on her pledge to not call elections.

Running under the slogan of “Strong and Steady Leadership,” May has put Brexit negotiations at the center of her campaign, saying she would negotiate a “fair deal” for the U.K. that would involve leaving the market and customs union while maintaining a “special” relationship with Europe.

May has also promised a major increase to health and education spending — £8bn and £4bn a year respectively — while at the same time, promising a balanced budget. The Tories have also been looking to capture the anti-immigrant vote through a pledge to reduce immigration numbers significantly.

May has had a difficult campaign given her refusal to participate in a televised debate, as well as accusations over negative campaigning and flip-flopping. She been steadily dropping in the polls leading up to June 8.  


Jeremy Corbyn

Leader: Jeremy Corbyn

Current Seats: 232

Main Platform: Since Labour members shocked the U.K. by electing left-wing outsider Jeremy Corbyn as leader, the party has been embroiled in an internal battle, with the right-wing Labourites openly moving to have Corbyn ousted.

When May called the election, it looked as though their wishes would be fulfilled and a Labour party defeat would spell the end of Corbyn’s efforts to restore Labour’s working class bent.

Despite the odds and the unfavorable media coverage, Corbyn has surged in the polls, riding on the discontent of many Britons to the state of services and living standards in the UK, and the prospects for these under another Tory government.

"Uncle Jezza" has been able to reach the youth with his promise to eliminate tuition fees, as well as his broader platform of ending austerity and reversing privatizations. Corbyn’s U.K. "for the many, not few" would also include a re-nationalization of industries privatized under Thatcher, including rail, mail and water.

Labour has had to answer questions on economics, including the impact of Brexit, which now they want to renegotiate after what was perceived as a luke-warm approach to the 2016 referendum. While some have suggested that Corbyn’s promises are not feasible, Labour says it will fund its pledges through tax increases for the rich.

Scottish National Party

Nicola Sturgeon

Leader: Nicola Sturgeon

Current Seats: 56

Main Platform: As the name of the party denotes, the U.K.’s third largest party in terms of seats is situated in Scotland, and has an nationalist orientation. Indeed, Nicola’s Sturgeon’s bloc is promising a second referendum on Scottish independence following the tight 2015 vote.

Beyond the sovereignty calls, the SNP bears similarity to the U.K.’s other left-leaning groupings, offering to end austerity and institute progressive social policies including a minimum wage hike and higher education and health spending. Sturgeon also wants to keep Scotland in the EU market, and has used Brexit to reinforce the SNP’s independence calls.

Liberal Democrats

Tim Farron

Leader: Tim Farron

Current Seats: 8

Main Platform: After a disastrous 2015 showing that saw them drop an astonishing 49 seats, Nick Clegg, the architect of the Tory-Lib Dem coalition government resigned as party leader.

Tim Farron leads the centrist outfit into an election promising mild reforms, including some increases in social spending and the holding of a referendum on the final Brexit deal.

Not surprisingly, Farron has ruled out the possibility of a coalition with the Conservatives or Labour.

Democratic Unionist Party

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Leader: Arlene Foster

Current Seats: 8

Main Platform: The right-wing party concentrates on its constituency in Northern Ireland, looking mostly at local reforms and job stimulation, promising 50,000 new jobs by 2021.

Sinn Fein

Gerry Adams

Leader: Gerry Adams

Current Seats: 4

Main Platform: Despite never taking up the seats they elect on the matter of principle, the Sinn Fein have four seats and consistently run on a program considered to be one of Europe’s most progressive.

Gerry Adams party is opposed to both austerity and Brexit, but want a special designated status for Northern Ireland within the EU and have also pledged to hold a referendum on the reunification of Ireland.

Social Democratic and Labour Party

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Leader: Colum Eastwood

Current Seats: 3

Main Platform: The North Irish social democrat party has an affinity to the U.K. Labour party and at least in this election, is promising a mix of policies placing it in between Corbyn and Adams.

Taking a page from the Sinn Fein playbook, the SDLP want special status for Northern Ireland within the EU and legislation to make the Irish language have official status. They also oppose austerity.


Caroline Lucas

Leader: Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley

Current Seats: 1

Main Platform: The environmentalists insist on remaining in the EU, and have proposed holding a referendum on the terms of the Brexit deal, with voters given the option of staying in the union. The Greens have proposed environmental regulations and are also anti-austerity, proposing a four-day working week and the scrapping of tuition fees.

Plaid Cymru

Leanne Wood

Leader: Leanne Wood

Current Seats: 3

Main Platform: The Wales-based party is looking to put the Welsh first, especially as concerns the current Brexit negotiations as well as any future trade deals. The social democrat party is also proposing regulations to curb rising fuel costs.

Ulster Unionist Party 

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Leader: Robin Swann

Current Seats: 2

Main Platform: Northern Ireland's most right-wing party is making similar pledges to its DUP competitors, though its history in relation to Sinn Fein will also set them apart. The Ulster Unionists are promising some health and education reforms as well.

UK Independence Party 

Paul Nuttall

Leader: Paul Nuttall

Current Seats: 1

Main Platform: After bursting on to the scene with loud, anti-immigrant policies and Brexit, the far right party did miserably in local elections and is not fairing much better heading towards June 8.

UKIP is promising to complete Brexit by 2019, slashing immigration to zero and banning Sharia courts.

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