Brexit Campaign 2.0?

18 April 2017

Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

PM May Calls Snap Election in UK

British Prime Minister Teresa May has surprised the world by announcing she wants a general election on June 8. This is a U-turn for her as she had stated repeatedly that she wouldn't go to the country until 2020 when this parliament comes to its statutory end. However, the pressures of Britain leaving the EU have forced her to change her tune. The nation is going to get the election it should have had last summer when the referendum went against then-PM David Cameron.

In explaining her volte-face, the PM said, "I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion. Since I became prime minister I've said there should be no election until 2020, but now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and security for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions we must take." Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act of 2015, the current House of Commons sits until May 2020. However, the Act does permit an earlier dissolution if 2/3 of all MPs (434 out of 650) vote to hold an election. Ms. May has called the question for tomorrow.

The Tories have a majority of 10; they lack the 2/3 margin. To carry the day, they will need a significant section of the opposition. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is backing the move, calling it a "chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first." The Scottish National Party, which is the third largest bloc in Commons, will take its cue from Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who said, "I think the prime minister has called this election for selfish, narrow, party political interests, but she has called it and therefore I relish the prospect of getting out to stand up for Scotland's interests and values, standing up for Scotland's voice being heard and standing against the ability of a right wing Conservative Party to impose whatever policies it wants on Scotland." The Liberal Democrats, Sinn Fein, Plaid Cymru and Democratic Unionists are already in campaign mode. The PM has the votes.

The current polling has the Conservatives with support in the mid-40s%, Labour at around 25%, with the LibDems and UKIP tied at 11%, and the SNP has 5%. The models suggest that the Tories will have a majority of more than 100 after the June election -- almost all of it at the expense of Labour. The LibDems and Plaid Cymru will pick up a few seats. The SNP, with its support concentrated in Scotland, will hold every one of its 56 seats.

Of course, the campaign will run just over 7 weeks, and a great deal can happen in that time. The one interesting development that could actually affect the final apportionment of seats is a suggestion (at present only a suggestion) by the LibDems that the parties that want to stay in the EU arrange not to stand against one another. It falls short of a fully blown electoral pact, and in Labour's case, is it really a remain party and so could it participate? However, informal agreements might help the LibDems and Greens pick up a seat or two, or at least, hold what they have. It probably won't change the Conservative win, but it might alter the size of the Tory majority by a handful.

That doesn't make this a referendum re-run. Article 50 has been invoked, and Britain is leaving the EU. There is no way to stop it short of the next government going to Brussels and asking all the other members to forget everything that happened -- and having all of them agree. No, this campaign is about what kind of Brexit the UK will get.

In the end, this is the election that should have happened when David Cameron lost his ill-conceived referendum. Having a Prime Minister who actively (if ineffectively) campaigned to Remain, as Ms. May did, following a vote to Leave was preposterous. Now, she will be able to have the voters endorse her change of perspective, and as she said, it will provide greater certainty and stability during the Brexit negotiations, which will be full of uncertainty and instability themselves.

© Copyright 2017 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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