This morning, with no prior warning or leaks, Theresa May stunned the political sphere by announcing a snap election for 8 June 2017. Despite repeatedly insisting there would be no election until the planned one in May 2020, May and the Tories have made a massive u-turn. However, the shock factor is created by May’s own actions rather than the circumstances.
There are three main reasons for why this election has been proposed by May.
The weakness of Labour: the main factor HAS to be Labour’s weakness. The polls are showing between a 21 and 25 point lead for the Tories, which is mammoth for a governing party with a small Parliamentary majority. It would be almost absurd not to capitalise on the misfortunes of Labour to consolidate your mandate, particular since the political landscape has changed massively in the two years since the 2015 General Election. If the polls are to be believed, there could be a historic and embarrasing defeat awaiting Labour following the election. They could be completely wiped out of Scotland, lose their stronghold in Northern England and potentially the urban centres as well.
Legitimacy: Without having been elected by her own party nor having led a General Election campaign, May has been facing calls for an early election since her appointment as Prime Minister. In what is looking like an easy election for the Tories, May will silence any doubters for her legitimacy but also a legitimacy in carrying out her planned Hard Brexit. Despite the EU Referendum being almost one year ago, this election will STILL be characterised by that. It’s essentially a choice between which route Britain should take. The hard Brexit proposed by the Tories, a softer approach by Labour (although this hasn’t been made abundantly clear) or the complete Soft Brexit approach of the Lib Dems.
Ease the process of Brexit: As already mentioned in legitimacy, it will become much easier for May to negotiate the Brexit she wants from the EU and pass it through Parliament. If she gains a large majority, she can effectively pass whatever deal she wishes through Parliament, and the Lords will also face pressure to back the government’s proposals since they are both unelected and May would have received an overwhelming endorsement from the general public.
Once again, politics has proved to be unpredictable to follow. The question know is whether Theresa May’s confident gamble will pay off as the polls suggest, or whether like David Cameron in offering the EU Referendum, this will be a gamble too far.