Theresa May

Image courtesy of Reuters

British PM Calls for Snap Elections

| published April 18, 2017 |

By R. Alan Clanton, Thursday Review editor

With the uncertainty of a British withdrawal from the European Union looming in the near future, and amidst rumors that she might resign her post, British Prime Minister Theresa May called for elections as early as June. May said that she believes early U.K. elections will be the best way to insure political balance and economic stability in the months and years to come.

Based upon current Parliamentary legislation, elections in the United Kingdom would not have taken place again until the summer of 2020. The government is only about halfway through its current term.

“It was with reluctance that I decided the country needs this election,” May told reporters outside Downing Street, “but it is with strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.”

May’s surprise announcement of the snap elections bolstered markets, and briefly calmed political chatter which included widespread rumors of her resignation. The move may have also strengthened the political traction of conservatives—many of whom were divided on the issue of Brexit only months ago—and helped to undercut Labour, which is trailing in most public opinion polls.

May told reporters that opposition parties are seeking to undercut long-term Brexit planning through “political game playing.”

"There should be unity here at Westminster,” May said, “but instead there is division. The country should be coming together, but Westminster is not.” May seeks to strengthen the British position politically going into Brexit talks with other nations.

Early elections require at least a two-thirds majority of MPs in the House of Commons. May said she will present a motion this week calling for an early election. The move—which comes alongside unfavorable opinions polling showing Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party sagging in popularity—could strengthen May’s hand in the House of Commons, where conservatives hold a very narrow edge. The early elections might allow conservatives to pick up several additional seats.

May took the helm last year after the Brexit vote forced conservative David Cameron from power. Brexit has led to divisions within the conservative party, Labour, and has spurred the strength of smaller parties as well.

Shortly after May’s surprise announcement, Corbyn took to social media to applaud her decision.

“I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision,” Corbyn said, “to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first.” Corbyn said he is confident that the early elections will give Labour an opportunity to gain strength.

Related Thursday Review articles:

British Exit: Impact Spreads to Markets, Labour; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; June 26, 2016.

Jeremy Corbin Leads the Way in Race to Become New Labour Leader; Thursday Review partners; Thursday Review; August 12, 2015.