Many assume that if an election were held soon, Jeremy Corbyn would win. But what if, say, the government fell in 2020 and Labour won a working majority?
At 71, Corbyn becomes Britain’s oldest prime minister since Churchill, and at first is one of its most popular. His appeal grows as he takes on some of the country’s favourite demons. Few listen to the protests of water and electricity shareholders as their stakes are seized — most are focused on their own bills, which surely will come down now. There are cheers at Victoria Station as the news flashes across screens that Southern Railway is to be nationalised. At hospitals, medical staff are filmed applauding as PFI contracts are terminated and taken on by the NHS. Stock markets show an upwards blip. They have, after all, already priced-in the expected Corbyn victory, while the clear result means that the endless political horse-trading of the past few years is over. Sterling bounds upwards — for a few days. A Corbyn victory seems to indicate that Britain will finally leave the EU, rather than the half-in, half-out arrangement which has persisted as Downing Street tried to placate warring Conservative factions. It means that Britain should gain distance from the troubled eurozone, still reeling from its most recent crisis. But then social media starts to light up with snaps of sheepish-looking celebrities — a number of whom have previously given warm support to Corbyn — boarding planes to the US, Canada or Australia. A week later the national mood remains positive, in spite of grumblings when a Commons bill forces coffee-shop chains with more than 500 UK outlets to buy their beans exclusively from fair-trade growers in Venezuela, which is to get £100 million in UK aid to help diversify its economy.