The rationale behind Theresa May's call for a general election

18 Apr 2017

As the United Kingdom joins twenty-five other nations in the grips of elections this year, the world’s eyes will turn to Westminster in June once again. 


The election is a bid by the Prime Minister to cement her grip on power. A Conservative majority would enable the Government to re-affirm their mandate, allowing them a more unified, straight-forward stance on Europe. Speaking at Downing Street, Theresa May told reporters "Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit, and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country”. 



Ensuring legitimacy is an integral part of May's plan. With calls for a second Scottish independence referendum, the Prime Minister is eager to stop Sturgeon in her tracks, as a successful ’Yes’ vote could jeopardise the economy, leaving negotiations in disarray. By holding a general election, May believes the SNP could lose seats in Parliament, emphasising the need to remain united.


There is a greater political consideration to be made. The spring budget caused controversy over the government's proposed changes to National Insurance rates. The inability to pass a budget is one of the greatest signs of weak government. Yet, if the Conservatives can add to their twelve-seat majority, then the Prime Minister will be able to pass more fiscal reforms. 


An election in June seems to be the perfect opportunity to make such gains, with the latest polls putting the Conservative Party twenty-one points ahead of Labour. This lead is the largest since 1983, and the Prime Minister’s decision to call an early election will capitalise on the conflict within the ranks of the Labour party. 


Indeed, with the election just fifty-two days away, the Prime Minister looks to overwhelm opposition parties.


Ultimately, the general election appears to be a move to consolidate power and appear stronger to the international community. There is a very real risk it will be a replay of the EU referendum, with Remainers looking for a second chance to block Brexit. Nevertheless, it is likely the snap election will hand the government a mandate to govern, and will go some way in preventing exploitation in negotiations with the EU.








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