It’s oh so quiet . . .

Election 2010. Guffwatch!

It's strange, isn't it, polling day? The most important day of all, and it all goes very, very quiet. Not at the polling stations, obviously. But that great cacophonous cocktail of the campaign trail, the news, blogs and everything else is like a Midwest American ghost town after a local gang fight a hundred years ago killed everyone in the surrounding area. All you can hear is the distant echo of a Keane song.

So far today, I've had group emails from Gordon Brown and David Cameron -- the latter by both text (how did he get my number, I ask you -- how?? I definitely never gave my digits to Cambo, swear on my life) and email. Both ardently encouraged me to vote. For them.

But it's not the same. The absence of craggy Gordon, fleshy Dave and grinning Nick from their odysseys around the country is rather deflating. It had become a strangely comforting part of the day, checking on where they'd all popped up and who they were mercilessly patronising now.

I have to admit it, I miss the guff. Have we had the last mention of "change", "real change" and "lasting change"? Will we ever see Gordon awkwardly clap a voter on the back again, or say to an unsuspecting child something like "You've got arms" by way of small talk? Will Cambo, once and for all, roll down those sleeves?

Obviously it will all get very exciting again later, and tomorrow, and perhaps onwards and for ever more, if we are whirling around in electoral confusion and any intense "horse-trading" gets under way. (On that note, what a brilliant bit of guff that is -- using a metaphor that must date from around 1824 to scare the masses off a hung parliament. It had the opposite effect on me, I'll have you know: I can't wait to see a spot of horse-trading in the flesh. It can't be worse than hunting, after all.)

But for now, in the words of that great pundit, Björk -- it's oh so quiet.

 

 

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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Theresa May: No “half-in, half-out” Brexit

The Prime Minister is to call her vision an equal partnership. Critics call it a hard Brexit. 

The Prime Minister is to signal Britain is heading for a hard Brexit after declaring she will not seek "anything that leaves us half-in, half-out".

In a major speech, Theresa May is expected to demand an "equal partnership" with the EU on a model unlike any other in existence.

She is to say: “We seek a new and equal partnership – between an independent, self-governing, Global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU.

"Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out. We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave. 

"The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. My job is to get the right deal for Britain as we do.” 

Advocates of soft Brexit had hoped that the UK might be able to negotiate a deal in which it maintained access to the single market in return for payment, and therefore offer businesses continuity.

Whether or not such a deal can take place depends on whether the UK and the EU find a trade off between controls on freedom of movement and access to the single market. 

But May is to hint that the first may be more important, saying that British voters chose to leave the EU "with their eyes open: accepting the road ahead will be uncertain at times". 

At the same time, the PM will attempt to play down the rift with Europe, and stress shared values instead.

Addressing Europe, she is expected to say: "The decision to leave the EU represents no desire to become more distant to you, our friends and neighbours."

Critics are already accusing May of prioritising immigration over the economy and security. 

Liberal Democrat Leader Tim Farron said: “You can call this Brexit clean, red, white and blue, or whatever you want.

"But this doesn’t disguise the fact that it will be a destructive, hard Brexit and the consequences will be felt by millions of people through higher prices, greater instability and rising fuel costs."

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.