THERESA MAY has announced that she will ask Parliament to hold an unscheduled General Election on 8th June. The Prime Minister made the announcement outside 10 Downing Street just after 11am on Tuesday, 18th April.
Any snap General Election must be called by Parliament – with MPs backing a motion to do so by a two thirds majority. Theresa May’s announcement was quickly followed by statements from the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats confirming that they will back the Election motion, so the two thirds majority seems assured. If this is the case, Parliament will be dissolved in early May for a relatively long five week campaign.
The Prime Minister explained that now that Article 50 had been moved and Brexit had been triggered, a General Election was needed to give the country a Prime Minister with a clear mandate to conduct the negotiations. She said that she had only recently come to this opinion – so she was reversing her previous policy of not calling a General Election.
Others believe the calling of an election is a shrewd move to extend her own term in office. The Tories have implemented the Brexit strategy that voters opted for last summer – so they appear to be delivering what the majority of voters want. Once the negotiations begin, it may be much harder for the Tories to get the agreements they want – and voters may become disillusioned. May could be reasoning that it will be easier to win now, while the Tories are relatively popular, than wait till 2020 – when negotiations may have failed and the economic and social costs of Brexit will be being felt.
None of the opposition parties are really ready for a General Election – which is another point May will have considered. While all of them have welcomed a General Election (they had little choice), they have all been struggling to make headway against a strong Tory Government and are all struggling in the opinion polls. The one exception is the Scottish National Party (SNP). However, while the SNP is not exactly struggling, the polls suggest that they are vulnerable to losing some seats to the Tories.
We have an austerity Government which is working to benefit the few, rather than the many – and which is dominating the public debate. Whether it continues is up to the electors. Theresa May has taken a gamble: the odds are that she will win. But Governments have topped despite the odds before…