A Brexit election


Sir, – Simon Foy’s appraisal (April 21st) of the benefits to both Britain and Ireland of the decision to hold a general election in the coming weeks reveals a misunderstanding of the peculiarities of the British electoral system.

While Mr Foy suggests that an ailing Labour would select a more effective leader and that the Liberal Democrats will see a surge in support, these developments will not necessarily be conducive to any form of rigorous scrutiny of the process of leaving the European Union.

The first-past-the-post system privileges the largest parties and those with regionally concentrated supporters and punishes smaller ones. A surge in support for the Liberal Democrats would have to reach multiples of their current vote share to overcome this disadvantage. In the last election, they received almost 8 per cent of votes, but only eight out of 650 seats.

Furthermore, the fragmentation of electoral support on the left between the Liberal Democrats and Labour will not merely result in Labour losing seats only to have them filled by Liberal Democrats, but in them being replaced by Conservatives.

Under this system, two smaller opposition parties are nowhere near as strong as a single larger one, with the likely result being that a renewed Conservative government would be decidedly beyond meaningful parliamentary scrutiny, which is hardly something to be desired on either side of the Irish Sea. – Yours, etc,



Castleknock, Dublin 15.