Will The UK Election Fix The Mess That Is Brexit?
People across the globe are turning their attention to the UK as the polls officially open for voters, in the hopes the general election could be the beginning of the end of the Brexit impasse.
Polling booths officially opened at 7 am GMT and the UK will have until late into the evening to cast their votes before formal counting gets underway.
It's expected early results of the election will begin to be released early on Friday morning local time.
But while the initial result might demystify how and when the UK could leave the European Union, a definitive resolution probably won't occur on December 12.
The future of Brexit depends on who wins, by how much and how the winner uses their new mandate in parliament.
Current Prime Minister Boris Johnson -- who campaigned vigorously to leave the EU in 2016 -- has been running his bid for re-election on three choice words; 'Get Brexit Done'.
"With Boris Johnson the only three words he is saying through this campaign is 'Get Brexit Done' and he just keeps repeating that because he knows it's a point of vulnerability," Professor of politics and international relations at the University of Adelaide Clement Macintyre told 10 daily.
If re-elected, Johnson has vowed to introduce his already negotiated Brexit deal to the House Of Commons. If he gets a majority of 326 seats, he would win a parliamentary vote and Brexit would pass.
"The line Boris Johnson has posed is, if you vote for the Tories we’ll get out of the EU. I think that is pretty compelling," Research Officer at RMIT EU Centre of Excellence Dr Chloe Ward told 10 daily.
"I think people are exhausted and I think people are tried of hearing about Brexit and they are willing to go with the party that is offering them an easy solution."
The way forward is less clear with Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has focused his campaign on the National Health Service (NHS), the economy and education. The fact that Labour is divided on Brexit is partially behind this.
If Corbyn is elected, he may renegotiate Johnson's Brexit deal or he might recommend leaving the EU. Labour has only committed to a second referendum and experts say this non-committal style could wound Corbyn's prospects of victory.
Labour also insists a Tory victory will ruin the NHS, claiming a post- Brexit free trade deal with the U.S. will open the health service to private American companies, driving the price of medication up.
"I think it is quite a smart tactic to talk about the NHS because ... it provides a round-about way of talking about Brexit without addressing it directly," Ward said.
Corbyn has crafted his campaign around the poignant NHS issue to try and expose the 'threat' of another Conservative government.
"The NHS is probably the most sacrosanct institution in the UK -- more even than the BBC or the monarchy! -- so it is a clever debate to have created," Dean of Business, Government and Law at the University of Canberra Professor Lawrence Pratchett told 10 daily.
Brexit has exposed the "dysfunctional" nature of the House of Commons since 2016, leaving voters desperate for stability. Entire parties have been split on the issue, without a consensus on what should or should not be done to solve the Brexit impasse. This has contributed to an increasingly unsteady period in UK politics.
"It's extremely unstable to a point where I don't think there is a parallel in the last 120 in British politics," Macintrye told 10 daily.
"Brexit has become a measure of the politics divide. People will talk about themselves as 'remainers' or 'leavers' as they will talk about themselves as Conservatives or Labour."
Pratchett told 10 daily the Commons has been "fatally wounded" by the ongoing "Brexit soap opera in which every episode ends in a cliff hanger, only for more drama to develop in the next episode".
"It [the parliament] has lost much of its authority to impose significant policy. These problems will play out in the implementation of Brexit over forthcoming years and we are likely to see greater dissatisfaction among the British public, not less," Pratchett said.
Who Will Win?
Experts are divided on who will become the next British PM.
"I think Labour wants it to be an election about the broader issues like the NHS but the Tories have been quite successful in narrowing the electorate's thinking to focus exclusively on Brexit," Chloe Ward said.
"We are looking at a conservative majority mostly because it looks like the Tories are going to pick up lots of votes in states that voted leave in the 2016 referendum."
Opinions are divided on who will win and by how much. Image: Getty Images,
"I would say a Tory majority probably somewhere between 20-40, unlikely to be below 20," Clement Macintrye said.
Lawrence Pratchett said this election is one of the most difficult to predict in modern times.
"Voters do not divide easily down party political lines and there is uncertainty about what is likely to happen," Pratchett said.
"My guess would be that the Conservatives will win the most seats but will fall short of a majority."
Despite Thursday's result, Brexit will not be solved quickly or easily, setting the stage for the soap opera to move into a new season.
Contact Siobhan at email@example.com