How Cameron’s win will affect UK, Africa ties

Saturday May 9 2015

Britain's Prime Minister and Leader of the

Britain's Prime Minister and Leader of the Conservative Party David Cameron addresses the country outside 10 Downing Street in London on May 8, 2015, a day after the British General Election. Cameron's Conservatives won a surprise and decisive victory in Britain's General Election on Friday, which redrew the political map and could redefine the country's future in Europe. AFP PHOTO | ADRIAN DENNIS 

By TREVOR ANALO, The EastAfrican

British Prime Minister David Cameron and his Conservative Party retained the keys to 10 Downing Street after winning a majority in the General Glection last Thursday.

The BBC forecast gave the Conservatives 331 seats in the 650 seat House of Commons, their first majority since the party won an outright win in 1992.

However, Africa may have little cause to celebrate because the Conservative party do not have an explicit policy on Africa.

But Magnus Taylor, from the London-based Royal African Society, told The EastAfrican that while the elections in the UK are shaped by domestic politics, “policy areas such as defence, immigration, international development, tax and trade will affect the lives of people in African countries.”

In his first term in office, over the past five years, Mr Cameron gave Africa a low profile in his agenda.

At a time when relations between Africa and the UK have been frosty since the sharp disagreements over the Libyan intervention in 2011, Mr Cameron has only visited Africa once, in 2011.

He went to South Africa and Nigeria, where he was forced to cut his trip short to go deal with a brewing phone-hacking scandal back home.

His deputy, Nick Clegg, has also been to Africa only once, visiting Ethiopia and Mozambique last year.

Labour party

Meanwhile, Ed Miliband, leader of the Labour Party, conceded defeat, saying he was “deeply sorry” for a “very difficult and disappointing result.” He resigned after conceding defeat.

“Elections in the UK should not really matter for the rest of the world. But bizarrely they do; and perhaps especially this one,” said Ian Scoones, a research fellow at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.

With the Conservatives back in power, the question that remains is whether they govern alone or invite small parties to join them in government.

Analysts said whatever post-election coalition arrangements the Conservatives may enter into, the outcome would remarkably change how the UK interacts with the rest of the world.

Mr Cameron’s victory puts the future of Britain’s membership in the EU in question after he promised to hold a referendum on the issue.

The UK could also split up — with the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP), now the third biggest in the House of Commons, expected to renew calls for the independence of Scotland after voting just a year ago to remain in the Union.

“Any of these scenarios will mean major changes in how Britain (or perhaps a new union of England, Wales and Northern Ireland) interacts with the world,” added Mr Scoones.

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London and a senior figure in the Conservative Party, is already courting the SNP, which has 56 seats, with a “federal offer” to Scotland.

This means that Cameron’s party no longer needs the Liberal Democrats after governing together in a shaky coalition since 2010.