The 2017 General Election we weren’t expecting

Since becoming Prime Minister, Theresa May has insisted that she wasn’t going to cut and run. Although the Conservatives have consistently held a substantial lead over Labour, she has resisted calls from within her own party to hold a snap general election and has been adamant that her government would run its full five-year term.

Her change of heart this morning therefore came as a bolt out of the blue. This was her statement in full:-

“I have just chaired a meeting of the Cabinet, where we agreed that the Government should call a general election, to be held on June 8th.

“I want to explain the reasons for that decision, what will happen next and the choice facing the British people when you come to vote in this election.

“Last summer, after the country voted to leave the European Union, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership, and since I became Prime Minister the Government has delivered precisely 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.

“We have also delivered on the mandate that we were handed by the referendum result”.

Of course, Mrs May cannot ask the Queen to dissolve Parliament. The Fixed Term Parliaments Act, passed under David Cameron in 2011, requires Parliament to serve a full five year term unless there is either a successful vote of no confidence in the Government or else two-thirds of MPs back an early election. Can Mrs May achieve that majority? With Jeremy Corbyn, Tim Farron and Nicola Sturgeon all enthusiastic to fight another General election, she stands a reasonable chance. However, assuming that every Tory MP will support their leader, this still requires every SNP and Lib Dem MP to do likewise along with at least 30 Labour MPs. If some MPs abstain and enough Labour MPs are fearful for their seats, achieving this figure may prove a bit challenging.

Presumably Mrs May and her supporters have been taking soundings, for if she fails to gain the necessary support, it would not look good for her, especially as she would then be going into the all-important Brexit negotiations from a weakened position. The only other alternatives for a snap election – calling a vote of no confidence in her own government or seeking to repeal the 2011 act, which would require approval of the House of Lords – do not look very likely.

Assuming that she does secure a majority, from the perspective of the Campaign for an Independent Britain, this will be a very different election from anything in the recent past. Being a cross-party campaign organisation, our focus has been to encourage voters to support candidates supportive of withdrawal from the EU, regardless of their party allegiance. With the vote to leave and the triggering of Article 50 behind us, the dynamics have changed considerably, particularly as many former remain-supporting Tories along with a significant minority of their Labour colleagues have insisted that they will honour last June’s vote and will not be obstructive of Brexit. Our task, therefore, will be to highlight obstructive individuals – either sitting MPs or candidates – while encouraging voters to support any candidate who is committed to the UK securing a good Brexit deal, whatever party they come from.

We can but hope that this election, rather than resurrecting the animosity of the Brexit campaign, will give us a Parliament which will carry out the wishes of the people as expressed last June and work constructively to secure such a successful exit from the EU that by the time the next General Election takes place, it will no longer be an issue for the UK electorate.

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John Petley

John Petley

John Petley is Operations Manager for Campaign for an Independent Britain

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6 comments

  1. Adam HileyReply

    a chance to get rid of the petty remainer MP’s if they continue to try and hold up Brexit no Labour SNP LibDem Greens sounds great Britain can get back Our Sovereignty

  2. Jason BReply

    Adam, this is our chance to join up as helpers against the MP’s that want to ‘remain’. I just hope that commom sense will prevail with Ukip and their supporters in doing just that. I see this as a Brexit mandate election and a chance for Mrs May to re-shuffle her cabnet. She has certainly taken all the parties by surprise and unready. As you say it is our Sovereignty. The emphasis on our Sovereignty and Independence is a key, key must to win over the hearts of the people.

  3. Michael BlandReply

    Thank you. I have to say I was astonished that an election should be called during Brexit negotiations. There didn’t seem to be any reason for it at this stage. A general election is to approve or otherwise of a government’s performance, not to support a referendum, which should not be mixed up with party politics. The Prime Minister may succeed in trouncing the opposition in Parliament, though there is a big risk, and at the expense of her reputation. Many voters will have been placed in a very difficult position, wanting to support the Brexit negotiations but not wanting to vote for her party’s policies and actions. It is extremely cynical even for the Tories. The people have already expressed their will for Brexit in a vote, approved by Parliament and don’t need an election to enforce it. This is not really about Brexit, it’s about establishing an unassailable position for the Conservative Party.

    With best wishes

    Michael Bland

  4. IanReply

    Aha, yes, I was OK with the government’s majority, and as a natural conservative I’m rather dismayed at the prospect of higher taxes, more government and continuation of Overseas Aid, most of which is wasted, and some of which ends up in the pockets of corrupt politicians. This snap election, for the first time in my life, gives me pause; maybe I’ll vote against the Conservative Party. I’m a leaver – mostly because I believe that the less government there is the better, so getting rid of a level of bureaucracy is a good thing, and in the EU’s case it’s prescriptive bureaucracy, so good riddance. But free movement of people is to be encouraged, so long as there is no burden on the State purse, nor any insurance implications or HSE nonsense.

  5. Phil JonesReply

    I can’t agree, Michael. It’s all about Brexit. This is exactly the time to call a GE. It will clear the air. MPs opposed to Brexit, including Conservative MPs, who have shown their remainer colours will be swept away. It will give Mrs. May a much strong bargaining position on Brexit and at the same time will make passage of the Great Reform Bill through Parliament easier than the ordeal that Mrs. May went through in the first months of this year. It also will reduce Nicola Sturgeon’s endless independence blackmail by reducing her party’s MP count. Although GE results are always unpredictable, Mrs. May going for added support for her plans at this time is just the right move.

  6. Gordon WebsterReply

    We have no choice but to trust Theresa May. I do not fully believe that she was a ‘remainer’ any more than Corbyn was. She was simply protecting her job, since Cameron and Osborne were running Project Fear. To have full Brexit, without strings, and without any more Brussels interference, we need a strong Party in Government, with a strong majority.
    I will say one thing for Mrs May, she has handled herself very well. There were no leaks about the proposed election, and the look of shock on Corbyn, Farron and Sturgeon’s faces was priceless. Regarding future negotiations, she has kept her mouth shut while all around her, including the EU Countries have been running around like headless chickens. Any Negotiations Course I went on made that a ‘must do’. So hats of to Mrs May.

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