At 11.05 on the morning of the 18th of April, the UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced that she intended on bringing a motion to the House of Commons to call an early General Election, despite numerous promises to not do this. Seriously, she said it five times since she became PM! However, an election now looks set to happen on the 8th June 2017.
Speculation was rampant as no journalist knew the purpose of the statement. This led journalists into three areas of speculation, Election, Resignation or Military Deployment. Once the lectern was put out, things narrowed down slightly as there was no Government Logo on the lectern, meaning it was a party announcement. Finally, at 11.05, ten minutes earlier than expected, the PM made her announcement.
In her speech, she said: “I have concluded the only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead is to hold this election.” The Prime Minister also blamed opposition parties in Westminster for not supporting her Brexit Strategy saying: “The country is coming together but Westminster is not.”
The election comes at a time when the Conservatives have a lead of 18 points in the latest poll and won the By-Election for the seat of Copeland, a seat Labour had held since 1935, becoming the first seat gained by a governing party since the 1982 General Election. As well as this, we could see the PM trying to avoid making the same mistake as Gordon Brown in 2007 when he experienced unrivalled popularity. During that time, he considered holding an early election, only to bottle it. After failed attempts to form a Coalition government with the Liberal Democrats in 2010, Gordon Brown resigned as PM.
How can she call a general election when the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 is in effect?
The Prime Minister has two ways of getting around this Act. The first is if the House of Commons resolves with ⅔ of its membership, “That there shall be an early parliamentary general election”. The other is if the House of Commons resolves that “This House has no confidence in Her Majesty’s Government”. The PM is going for the first option as Labour has promised to vote with the Government on this issue.
What has the reaction been like?
Labour: Leader Jeremy Corbyn has welcomed the decision saying: “I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first.”
Liberal Democrats: Leader Tim Farron has said: “This election is your chance to change the direction of the country.” “Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority.”
SNP: Scottish First Minister and Leader of the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon has accused the PM of trying to “move the UK to the right” also urging the public to “stand up for Scotland.”
With 6 weeks until the UK General Election, the campaigns already kicking off, it is going to be a very interesting time for the UK. Watch this space.