Theresa May pushed things forward once again in a surprising announcement this morning. She said that in the morning meeting of the cabinet it was decided that the UK General elections, scheduled for 7th of May 2020, will be held in a much shorter period of time. Much, much shorter. In just two months – 8 June. “We need a general election and we need one now. We have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done… before the detailed talks begin,” the Prime Minister stated. Her announcement took by surprise political and financial experts mostly because until now Theresa May opposed the idea of changing the date of the elections. However, today she explained her change of mind saying that despite that “the country is coming together, Westminster is not” and that separation “risks our ability to make a success of Brexit”. Dressed in her new “lucky” outfit navy dress and leopard print kitten heels, Theresa May said to the reporters: “I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion.” And “If we do not hold a general election now their political game-playing will continue, and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election.”
Despite its shocking effect, the news was welcomed in the financial markets and immediately pushed the pound up against both the US dollar and the euro. According to Luke Bartholomew, investment manager at Aberdeen Asset Management, the Prime Minister saw the current situation as a good “opportunity to consolidate her mandate ahead of the Brexit negotiations”. His opinion is supported by another expert, Shilen Shah, bond strategist at Investec Wealth & Investment, who believes that Theresa May “wants full control of the Brexit process without any interference from the opposition”.
The PM’s decision has its opponents too. Professor Martin Smith, head of the University of York’s politics department, sees it as “both cynical and hypocritical”. “Clearly the reason for the election is that with Labour so weak in the polls, it is an opportunity for the Conservatives to win a landslide victory.” And “With a large Conservative majority, the government will be able to get through any Brexit deal”, he added.
According to the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011, which determines the election procedure, a government which proposes for a new date has to pass a motion in the House of Commons by winning two thirds of the votes. That will happen tomorrow and requires the positive votes of 434 MPs. Currently, in the Parliament, there are 330 MPs from the Conservative party, 229 from the Labour party and 53 representatives of the SNP.
Considering the supportive reaction of Labour’s leader James Corbyn, who believes this will “give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first” the vote is most likely to go through. However, the reaction of the SNP was completely the opposite. Nicola Sturgeon, the party leader criticised the idea which she qualified as “one of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history” and pointed out that the Tory leader is “once again putting the interests of her party ahead of those of the country”.
Although the Queen doesn’t have any right to call for an election, the government spokesman announced that Theresa Mays has informed Her Majesty in a phone conversation yesterday.
Who would win?
According to several polls done over the weekend by YouGov, ComRes and Opinium, currently the Conservatives are far ahead with 38% and 46% in the polls while the Labour party gets 23% and 29%. The polls also show that Theresa May has the public support as a Prime Minister – 50% according to YouGov, with Corbyn getting a small 14%.