How do the Spanish feel about the UK general  election

Jeremy Corbyn’s victory is increasingly possible. In recent days, the passion of his convictions has seen even tempered next to the joyless hubris of Prime Minister Theresa May and her acolytes. 

Britain’s next government is the subject of intense interest to its European neighbours. Will they continue to play derisive hardball with May or will they sit down with bonhomie toward Corbyn?

For Spain, it’s apparent that the most pressing issues with Britain are two-fold: their disputed claim to Gibraltar and how a Brexit deal might set a precedent for the Basque Country and Catalonia. 

Neither Labour nor the Conservatives have set out what a good or bad Brexit deal looks like. Nor have they said what their negotiating strategy is (save for the usual cliches about the ‘national interest’). 

In fact, there’s a curious irony at play between May and Corbyn. Euroscepticism has punctuated the Labour leader’s career (although he’s defended the social benefits of the EU in recent years).  May, on the other hand, has emphasised the economic benefits of EU membership while now usurping parliamentary accountability at ever turn to expedite a Brexit. Go figure. 

In Spain, there will be different readings of the election. The conservative People’s Party under Mariano Rajoy would no doubt quietly cheer the victory of the right-wing Tories; albeit as short-term EU partners and potential long-term foes to a clean Brexit. 

Corbyn would, without a doubt, be the most likely to negotiate for the shared sovereignty of Gibraltar, as well as the fairest Brexit break without the jingoism of the Tories.

Undoubtedly, Corbyn would be best for Madrid, but a hung parliament of some sort, or a massively reduced majority for May, would severely restrict her ability to act unilaterally with no consideration to the Remain movements. 

Whatever the result, Nicola’s Sturgeon’s Scottish Nationalist Party pose a significant threat to Spain’s delicate regional politics. If the SNP claim most of Scotland’s Westminster seats, the democratic deficit of a Tory government, coupled with a hard Brexit, will likely fuel calls for a second independence referendum. 

It’s entirely within Spain’s interests to keep an eye on UK affairs, and even more so for expats who want to predict the Spanish reaction to Brexit. 

A Corbyn victory would be a serious, albeit understated, delivery of electoral upset that began with Brexit and gave the world Trump.

We live, as they say, in interesting times.

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