“There isn’t going to be one. It isn’t going to happen. There is not going to be a general election.” That was U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May’s spokesperson just a little over a month ago, reiterating what the PM had already said herself multiple times since she assumed the premiership back in July. Yet here we are, just a month away from a general election on June 8. With Brexit negotiations starting up soon after, this election will undoubtedly determine how those talks move forward. The Conservatives are expected to retain a majority of seats in Parliament, but given how terrible polling has been the past year, nothing should be considered out of the realm of possibility.
This election is, despite all the musings about the need for “strong and stable” leadership, a calculated political gamble. On the surface, after all, little about this early election makes sense. The Conservatives are already the majority in Parliament and this could have been ensured for another three years. The opposition parties, especially Labour, for all the complaints back in July about the Prime Minister’s insistence against an early election, were probably relieved there was not going to be one. Labour and the Liberal Democrats suffered huge losses in the 2015 election and could have used several more years to rebuild their platforms and get fresh new leadership. The Ms. May’s shocking reversal is a result of one thing in particular: Brexit. Much of Parliament, regardless of party affiliation, supported remaining in the European Union, which may cause problems for those in the Conservative leadership, particularly the Prime Minister herself, who want a so-called ‘hard Brexit.’
This early election, if the polls are indeed correct, will be a boon to Ms. May’s government. The opposition is weak, Conservatives will most likely strengthen their majority, and Brexit negotiations will be carried out by staunch allies of the Prime Minister. On the flip side, this early election is a nightmare for Labour and other ‘Remain’ opposition parties. They will be relegated to positions of little influence on the biggest political decision in modern British history. The true losers of this early election, however, are the voters. They may back the Conservatives, but only out sheer frustration with a fractured and weak opposition. Ideally, it would be nice to have a more moderate voice in Parliament led by the Liberal Democrats, but their party’s insistence on not fully committing to Brexit is unrealistic given that Article 50 has already been triggered. They also do not have enough support in the polls to make a viable comeback from the massive losses they took in 2015.
There is a chance things will not go all as planned by the Conservatives, but it’s still hard to imagine a scenario where they do not even have a slim majority. It’s a shame the British people do not have better choices. Voters could be forgiven for thinking that no one on either side of the English Channel knows what to do about Brexit. There have been plenty of talks about how to approach Brexit, but little in the ways of concrete ideas. Whatever happens, in both the election and the Brexit negotiations, it’s hard to envision a situation where anyone ends up satisfied.
This article was written by Ben Haller. Please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to get in touch.
Photo Credit: Variety