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Rudaw

Opinion

Shock snap general election in the UK

By GARY KENT 18/4/2017
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The ancient tradition is that a new Speaker of the House of Commons is dragged reluctantly into the Chair, despite having sought the position in the first place. The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has showed a similar reticence since her elevation last July. But she has now lobbed a hand grenade into UK politics by suddenly announcing a snap election on 8 June.

May has played her cards very well. It was wise of her to rule it out at the beginning and even in the recent past. I reported in March that some Conservatives and commentators were looking at a snap election but the moment seemed to have receded. 

 

May had clearly learned the lessons of another Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, who took over from Tony Blair in 2007. Brown publicly toyed with the idea and taunted the Conservatives, even spending a million pounds on party preparations. But he then saw the polls and decided not to go for an election. This fatally wounded him as a man of opportunism.

 

May had neither nurtured the idea nor ever said never and therefore allowed herself the chance to embrace an early election with reluctance and in the national interest. Following today's cabinet meeting, she stood in front of 10 Downing Street and explained why she is now calling a snap election 'and the choice facing the British people when you come to vote in this election.' 

 

She said that after last June's referendum in favour of leaving the European Union 'Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership,' which her government has delivered and that 'despite predictions of immediate financial and economic danger, since the referendum, we have seen consumer confidence remain high, record numbers of jobs and economic growth that has exceeded all expectations'

 

But Westminster is divided, she said, when it should be united at this moment of enormous national significance. She identified a narrow window of opportunity for maximising domestic unity 'while the EU agrees its negotiating position and the detailed talks begin.'

 

She stressed that she had only recently and reluctantly come to this position as the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead. Tomorrow, Parliament will vote to lift the law that set a fixed term of five years, which had meant we would have to wait until 2020 for an election. 

 

Labour will vote for this although it is 20 points behind in the polls and could be smashed to pieces. The standing of the Opposition Leader is terrible, But Labour cannot credibly oppose an election which it must say it is capable of winning.

 

Nothing is certain in the next seven weeks but at this stage it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that May has just signed the Labour Party's death warrant, and can massively boost her 17 seat majority and give her the room to organise the best deal on Brexit. 

 

Gary Kent is the director of All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). He writes this column for Rudaw in a personal capacity. The address for the all-party group is appgkurdistan@gmail.com.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position of Rudaw.



Comments

 
anon | 19/4/2017
Agree with prospects for Labour. Following it's near total destruction in Scotland, I'd expect a similar result in England on June 8th as 'un-Brexit' vote goes to Lib Dems & Greens & Labour MP's resign en-masse.
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