Written by our campaign agent Luke Walpole
And so it begins. Through a speech delivered outside No.10 this morning, Prime Minister Theresa May pulled a decisive – but not wholly surprising – U-turn. Britain will now head to the polls on June 8 for a decision which will shape not just the political complexion of our government, but the very manner in which the United Kingdom will tackle the challenges of the next few years. So what did the PM actually say?
The Road Ahead
“Since the referendum we have seen consumer confidence remain high, record numbers of jobs, and economic growth,” began the PM, before turning to mimic her own speech delivered when triggering Article 50, by outlining her desire for a “deep and special partnership” between Britain and the EU. The theory, therefore, is that a stable Tory government would allow these positive trends to continue.
“The country is coming together, but Westminster is not,” suggested the Prime Minister. It was at this point that journalists across the country started drafting their tweets. The opponents of the Government (the SNP, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, Remainers, the Lords, the list seemingly goes on) “believe because the government’s majority is so small, that our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course.”
And here’s the rub. Though the Conservatives do possess a majority in the Commons, it’s slim. Certainly, with a daunting legislative agenda on the horizon, it is too close for comfort. With all of this considered, May suggested that a continuation of this precariousness would “risk our ability to make a success of Brexit.” By making a slim Tory majority and future prosperity somewhat mutually exclusive, there was only one solution.
“We need a general election and we need one now.” Cue an explosion on social media. Quite cannily, the Prime Minister was quick to draw attention to her own hypocrisy. “Up until recently I have said there should be no election until 2020,” she began, alluding to her desire for stability, and recognition of the Fixed Term Parliament Act. However, “now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election.” By recognising her own flip-flopping, and taking the initiative on the election, the PM has seemingly defused this critique.
The speed of Mrs May’s decision will have taken many opposition leaders by surprise. Hence, the Prime Ministers almost taunting offer to her adversaries to “show you are not opposing government for the sake of it.” More ominously, though the PM suggested a scenario where Labour could win, she concluded that it would only be an “unstable coalition government, led by Jeremy Corbyn.”
Stability will be the buzzword of this election. The theory goes that a stable, one party government will allow a unified and consistent approach to Brexit, and stop the corroding influence of disunity. Though Theresa May throughout underlined the fierce urgency of now, the Conservatives en masse have plugged for a snap election at this moment for another reason. They realise that this is a gilded opportunity to neuter Labour as a political force for the foreseeable future.
It’s nearly been a year since the EU Referendum, and so it transpires that Brexit is getting a sequel.