The Election of 2017
The Conservative Party, was defending a working majority of 17 seats against the Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn. Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 an election had not been due until May 2020, but a call by Prime Minister Theresa May for a snap election was ratified by the necessary two-thirds vote in the House of Commons on 19 April 2017. May said that she hoped to secure a larger majority to "strengthen [her] hand" in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.
Opinion polls had consistently shown strong leads for the Conservatives over Labour. From a 21-point lead, the Conservatives' lead began to diminish in the final weeks of the campaign. In a surprising result, the Conservative Party made a net loss of 13 seats despite winning 42.4% of the vote (its highest share of the vote since 1983), whereas Labour made a net gain of 30 seats with 40.0% (its highest vote share since 2001 and the first time the party had gained seats since 1997). This was the closest result between the two major parties since February 1974 and their highest combined vote share since 1970. The Scottish National Party (SNP) and the Liberal Democrats, the third- and fourth-largest parties, both lost vote share; media coverage characterised the result as a return to two-party politics. The SNP, which had won 56 of the 59 Scottish seats at the previous general election in 2015, lost 21. The Liberal Democrats made a net gain of four seats. UKIP, the third-largest party in 2015 by number of votes, saw its share of the vote reduced from 12.6% to 1.8% and lost its only seat.
Issues in the campaign
The UK's withdrawal from the European Union was expected to be a key issue in the campaign, but featured less than expected. This is party expalined by the lack of choice between Labour and Conservatives. Labour was committed to laeve the EU but was pressing for a close relationship and access to the single market- May's government were still negotiating and while she asserted that 'Brexit meant brexit- she also wanted a close relationship. In 2019 Boris would offer a guarantee to 'get Brexit done' whatever the deal or lack of a deal, while Labour would be committed to renegotiate any Conservative deal and hold a second referendum.
Two major terrorist attacks took place during the election campaign, with parties arguing about the best way to prevent such events.May, after the second attack, focused on global co-operation to tackle Islamist ideology and tackling the use of the internet by terrorist groups. After the first attack, Labour criticised cuts in police numbers under the Conservative government. Corbyn also linked the Manchester attack to British foreign policy. May was personally associated with police cuts since she had been Home Secretary.
Social care became a major election issue after the Conservative Party's manifesto included new proposals, which were subsequently altered after criticism.The previous coalition government had commissioned a review by Andrew Dilnot into how to fund social care. Measures that were seen to disadvantage pensioners were also in the Conservative manifesto: eliminating the pension triple lock and Winter Fuel Payments for all pensioners.
Labour was thought to have attracted a significant number of student voters with its pledge to abolish tuition fees, which stands at £9,250 a year in England, and bring back student grants.