Theresa May Takes Smart Gamble with Snap Election
British prime minister asks UK voters for expanded majority to finalize Brexit, restore sovereignty
British Prime Minister Theresa May shocked political observers Tuesday morning by calling for a snap general election in June, despite having said upon assuming power that no such election would take place.
Although a gamble, many observers believe that the election would likely consolidate the Conservative Party’s parliamentary power, providing it with the larger majority necessary to secure an effective and beneficial Brexit, a point May herself made during the surprise announcement.
“Theresa May should have little to be concerned about in terms of building up her majority.”
“At this moment of enormous national significance, there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division. The country is coming together, but Westminster is not,” May said.
“In recent weeks, Labour have threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach with the European Union, the Liberal Democrats have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill, the S.N.P. say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union, and unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way,” she explained.
“Our opponents believe because the government’s majority is so small that our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course,” the prime minister continued.
May, who is currently riding on a wave of popularity, hopes to increase that majority significantly, and she could indeed do just that.
The left-wing Labour Party is currently in shambles. Led by a radical far-leftist, Jeremy Corbyn, and suffering from constant infighting, Labour is trailing the Conservative Party in the polls by double digits.
Indeed, it was predicted in early April that Labour could lose 125 seats in the local council elections scheduled for May. Polling at roughly 25 percent, the Party could see its worst election performance since before the Second World War.
“Theresa May should have little to be concerned about in terms of building up her majority,” Dr. David Brockington, a professor at Plymouth University, told the local Herald newspaper. “I think Labour will lose a significant number of seats,” Brockington said.
The wild card in the election, however, is the Liberal Democrats, a center-left party that was thought after the last election to be effectively obsolete, but — through a combination of Labour’s utter ineptitude and the continued outrage of those who wished to remain in the EU — has seen something of a resurgence. Indeed, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Fallon pledged Tuesday to make opposition to Brexit central to his campaign.
“I think the Lib Dems will probably double or triple their seats because they have got a clear message,” Brockington said. “If you look at the local by-elections since the EU referendum, the Lib Dems are cleaning up. They are projected to do fairly well,” he continued. “The Conservatives’ bigger worry should be the wider Devon and Cornwall seats they won in 2015. I see the Lib Dems taking a few of those.”
It's a worry the Conservatives in those seats share themselves. In March, the U.K.'s Sun newspaper reported that Conservative Members of Parliament in both Cornwall and Devon warned the Prime Minister that they could suffer losses to the Lib Dems in the event of a snap general election.
Needless to say, they weren't happy with May's decision on Tuesday.
"Having given it my all both physically and financially just 22 months ago, frankly I am surprised and nervous," one unnamed MP told the Sun.
"I'm fine but others are going to have a bloody slog and – whether or not we make gains elsewhere – we will be thanking a few colleagues for their short service since 2015," said another.