With her opponents scattered, will Theresa May now call a snap election?

by Kevin Meagher

Has British politics ever been more unpredictable, or, frankly, ever been this loopy?

The UKIP national executive committee’s decision to keep Steven Woolfe off the leadership ballot now plunges UKIP into a dark pit of recrimination.

It’s getting crowded down there, with Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith slugging it out for the soul of the Labour party.

And with the Liberal Democrats still recovering from the wounds they suffered as part of the coalition government, the Opposition in British politics has never looked weaker.

Of course, there is only one winner.

Theresa May now utterly dominates British politics.

To be sure, it’s not an outcome she has not had to work for, finding herself the fortunate beneficiary of a sequence of events no-one could have plausibly predicted just a few weeks ago.

Brexit, Cameron’s departure and Labour’s ongoing feud have provided her with an embarrassment of riches, even if she has to pick up the tricky issue of Britain’s exit from the EU.

She is unassailable in her own party, having been smart enough not to get her stilettos dirty during the referendum campaign, while her reputation for cautious competence chimes with the mood of the public that now wants an adult in charge of the country.

But there is still the hard politics to consider and never before can the temptation to call a snap general election have weighed more heavily.

In one swift, brutal move, Theresa May could wipe out her opponents and win her own mandate for the changes she seeks to make.

No longer the caretaker, picking up the pieces from Cameron’s messy political implosion, she could single-handedly reshape the political landscape, guaranteeing a decade of Conservative hegemony.

Who can stop her? Tim Farron has made no impact, Jeremy Corbyn has the worst polling figures in history and UKIP looks like to split off into factions.

Perhaps she will wait for post-Brexit nerves to stop jangling after this summer of political madness, but by the autumn Theresa May will have to confront the open goal before her and decide whether or not to seize a historic victory.

Kevin Meagher is associate editor of Uncut

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11 Responses to “With her opponents scattered, will Theresa May now call a snap election?”

  1. paul barker says:

    If May tries to get an Election in the Autumn, Labour actually have a good excuse to block her. There is a strong argument for an Election once the Terms of Brexit have become clear & that is unlikely to happen this year, Labour could argue for a delay on that basis. Whether voters would believe that was the real reason is another question.
    Perhaps Kevin Meagher could use any influence he has with the Coup leaders to suggest that they get on with it, whatever it is.

  2. Tafia says:

    If May were to move for an early election, iwould require an Amendment – or even scrapping of – the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. To get the two thords absolute majority required will require the Labour MPs to vote in favour. Do you really think they fancy it?

    But lets say the PLP continue on their elongated act of self-immolation (which os getting a bit tedious now by the way) what would such an election be fought on?

    Well the May would focus on one thing and one thing only – vote Tory and I will invoke Article 50 on such-and-such a date and we will be out 2 years later. Her winning on that mandate would completely destroy any notions of the Remain rear gurad have of trying to get a second referendum etc – May would have her mandate from the ballot box, which with the referendum result means she actually has two mandates.

    Northern England? Lanour – while in a civil war, would be having to fight the tories and UKIP all at the same time. (The tories won’t have such a drama in their seats with UKIP so long as they don’t deviate from BREXIT). And Labour would have to fully endorse BREXIT lock stock and barrell and swear blind it will do nothing to slow it or interfere with it. If ot doesn’t, it’s northern vote will just shift to UKIP. They’ve no reason not to.

    Scotland? The SNP will go on one thing and one thing only. An immediate IndyRef2. They woill see themselves winning the majority of the Scottish seats as an absolute mandate to demand it. And they’ll be right. And they will finish off the job of removing every Labour MP north of the border. The remaining one would be out on his arse. Labour’s entire electoral campaign north of the border would revolve around why unionism is good – not what the tories are doing in London.

    Then there’s the little matter of the Boundary Commission. Will they bring the new boundaros and fewer constituencies forward? (which damages Labour even more as it removes the Labour bias in urban areas).

    There will be no early election. May doesn’t need one and Labour certainly don’t. The SNP would like one though.

  3. Daniel S says:

    It isn’t possible for Theresa May to call a snap general election because of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011. A general election can only take place before 2020 if two thirds of the Commons votes for one, or if the Government losses a motion of no confidence and a period of 14 days passes without it winning a motion of confidence.

  4. Tafia says:

    paul barker- There is a strong argument for an Election once the Terms of Brexit have become clear

    Pay attention atthe back. There will be no negotions – or even pre-negotiations until AFTER we invoke Article 50 – the EU are insistant on that, those are the rules.. And once that is invoked there’s no turning back whether you lioke the outcome or not.

  5. @Daniel S

    May can call an early election in two ways.

    1) Corbyn has called for an early election. If Thereas May challenges him to vote for one, it’ll be tricky for him to refuse.

    2) The Tories could move a motion of no confidence in themselves. I’ve read that this has happened in continental countries, with fixed term parliaments.

    Alternatively, the Tories could repeal the fixed term parliament act, but this would take time, as the Lords would probably delay such a move. So, while that might allow an 2019 election, it wouldn’t allow one this year.

  6. james says:

    I know of one long-time labour voter in Edinburgh South who is changing to tory due to Ruth Davidson and Mrs May. Yet I know someone who has joined Labour to vote for Corbyn in the same constituency!

  7. Timmy says:

    What stops the Government whipping a vote of No Confidence in itself to trigger an election?

  8. john P Reid says:

    apart form a few labour MP who may want to get the next election massacre out the way, and see their colleagues lose their seats,
    there’s also a few Tories in marginal who may not want to see Ukip or a re assurgance libdem get their seat
    if the LIbdems SNP DUP and 25 odd labour MPS voted with the the Go’vt on a vote of no confidence, it could happen but won’t 2017 will be worse than 2016

  9. Rallan says:

    The UKIP civil war is a necessary outcome of the Brexit victory. The party elite is split but the membership & support isn’t. It won’t take long to reach a decisive outcome.

  10. paul barker says:

    On the Fixed term, no-one knows what would happen because its never happened before. However May could point out that Labour have asked for an Election. Arguing that we should wait until the Government decides what its asking for is reasonable. Actually it would make more sense to have The Election after Article 50 is triggered & once the basis of negotiations has become clear.Britain can still change its mind even then, implementation can be delayed indefinitely if the other 27 Countries agree.

  11. John says:

    May doesn’t need a mandate for article 50 or anything else. Why then go to the country and risk her majority (slim, but still a majority) for only an extra year in office. (Fixed term act says if an early election then the next Government rules for 5 years or until the May before the 5 years is up. Any election before May 2017, means that following GE would be May 2021).

    Her majority is at risk from two directions 1) UKIP (ignore current shenanigans) they will campaign on ‘holding her feet to the fire’ over Brexit terms. Of the top 11 seats where UKIP came second 6 are held by the Tories. A 10% swing in those seats to UKIP would wipe out her majority. 2) The Lib Dems, they are beginning to make a come back (look at local election results not polls). Any resurgence in the South West would see Tory seats go back to the Lib Dems The Tory majority is heavily dependent on the seats they won from the Lib Dems in the South West.

    She may pick up seats from Labour (Labour’s poll ratings will improve after September whoever wins), but would it be enough? If you were guaranteed power for the next 4 years, would you risk giving it up just for an extra year?

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