The fresher who predicted Brexit and Theresa May’s rise to power
And he did it in January
Louis McEvoy is a fresher at the University of Oxford. In January, the Christ Church History student correctly predicted that the UK would vote to leave the EU, Sadiq Khan would win the mayoral election and that the year would end with Theresa May as Prime Minister. He also foretold Jeremy Corbyn’s survival, but that remains to be seen as the leader tussles over a leadership contest with the perpetually disappointing Angela Eagle.
Unfortunately Louis didn’t follow Ed’s advice: “I did have a little few individual bets with people but I really regret not doing it on the betting markets now.” Reason being, he only made them for “a bit of fun, although it is nice to see predictions can be founded in reality.”
So how did he reach this forecast? And how did they come true in what many have described as the loosest week in British politics, ever?
Sadiq will become London Mayor
“The Sadiq one is interesting, I thought he’d make it – London being a Labour city. The only person who has been able to bridge that party divide was a uniquely charismatic figure, Boris Johnson, and Zac Goldsmith is nowhere near as charismatic or interesting. But I think Corbyn has actually been helpful for Labour in London overall. I think if the rest of the country was like London, which of course it incredibly isn’t, then Corbyn would be much more electable.
“London being such a metropolitan area, so multicultural, so multifaith. It’ss more like a beacon of what the rest of the country might be like in 30 to 40 years when globalisation has completely taken over. Whereas the rest of the country is on gradual steps towards globalisation, that’s why it’s far less palatable. The position London is in is not necessarily better, but that seems to be the direction in which we’re going.”
That’s the easy one out of the way then.
The year will end with Theresa May as Prime Minister
“People thought it would be Osborne as PM if we stayed in and that Johnson could somehow creep up as well. Now obviously as I predicted Brexit would happen, I didn’t think Osborne would make it because he was always fairly pro-EU. Boris hadn’t declared as a Leave supporter back in January, and from that perspective there weren’t really that many big Brexiteer figures in the Conservative parliamentary party because Gove hadn’t declared and Boris hadn’t declared.
“May is probably the best politician in Cameron’s cabinet in terms of sheer competence, not in terms of media strategy although she does fine in that too, if she stayed on for another three weeks she would be the longest serving home secretary of all time. She is incredibly competent, incredibly resilient and being a remainer, that allows her to unite the conservative party.
“Because inevitably the EU referendum would divide the Tories, and you need somebody after that referendum to bring them together, the thing that makes May so special is that she wasn’t part of the Cameron Project, but she was still a moderniser of sorts. She wanted to stay in the EU but, as was evident in her conference speech last year, she was very anti-immigration and eurosceptic all the same.”
Corbyn will survive
I pushed Louis on his assertion that Corbyn would survive – the picture seems to be that he is currently doing everything but. He answered convincingly: “The thing about Corbyn is that he has a huge democratic mandate and he is still hugely popular amongst the members, and although that popularity perhaps has declined slightly in terms of people who voted for him in the first place, the electoral pool has changed significantly too.
“Lots of moderates have left and there’s been a huge influx of tens of thousands of new Corbynites. For the party to get rid of Corbyn it has to very candidly say “we don’t believe in democracy,” “we don’t believe in our members having a say.”
“There’s no way of presenting that as anything other than a conspiracy, a coup against him. And that is problematic for politicians who care about their careers and people who perhaps worry about the backlash. That’s an undesirable idea.”
And some more predictions from Louis, so you can put some money down yourselves.
Labour will next win a general election in: 2030
“That’s predicated on the assumption that Labour can survive. I think it will, in some form. The earliest Labour can hope for is 2025, but more likely 2030. The Tories are very wise and are positioning themselves as the new centrist party, as you will have seen Theresa May isn’t talking about new forms of austerity, or going further to the right.”
Prominent members of May’s cabinet: Chris Grayling, George Osborne, Michael Gove
“Grayling will certainly get something. I think there will definitely be a need to bring the party together, and therefore there will probably be Brexiteers in the cabinet, not necessarily Johnson, probably Gove, but May is appealing because she does override those divides. She was never a cheerleader for the EU and always presented herself as eurosceptic. George Osborne will probably stay as Chancellor or perhaps foreign secretary because May will perhaps want to emphasise some kind of stability and continuity.”
The next general election: 2020
“May, in her character, I don’t think she’ll want to call a general election. I don’t think the country would actually want a general election. We want stability now, we want some kind of calm after the past two and a half weeks of completely obliterated status quo. The election would just cause even more mess. Gordon Brown didn’t call one and Theresa May is very similar to Gordon Brown, in terms of not being too focused on media image and caring more about competence.
“The other thing would be beneficial is that she’ll be strengthened by a general election, but only in the short term. The Tories are massively helped by Corbyn’s existence. If they call a general election that might end up getting rid of Corbyn permanently, and they want to keep him on.”
When we will see Nigel Farage return: Three days time
“He keeps rising from the dead again and again. After he resigned in 2015 I think it was three days before he was back – some sort of a Christ-like cult of personality. Now we’ve had the Brexit he’s more likely to reinvent himself as, say, a Fox news commentator. He’s already got his legacy in history. It’s extraordinary. He’s never been elected to parliament but he is one of the most influential politicians of our age.”
David Cameron’s career prospects: An empty void
“I think the question of David Cameron is quite funny, in that one would expect a former PM to maybe give speeches on leadership or good government – how can he possibly do that, having lost this enormous referendum? He’s wealthy, so he’ll be fine but I don’t see any future for him. He might not want to stay in the public gaze at all, especially as he’s a national joke now.”