We now have a General Election on June 8th after a declaration made outside 10 Downing Street yesterday morning by Theresa May.
The next election under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act 2011 was scheduled to be in May 2020.
There is a get around if a two-thirds majority in Westminster agree ‘That there shall be an early parliamentary election’.
Theresa May has looked at her majority, she has looked at the state of Labour and the Liberal Democrats in England and buoyed by favourable polling numbers and has gambled on a ‘snap’ election to firm up her position and try to gain a greater majority whilst also using the election to affirm her Hard Brexit stance following last summer’s referendum on exiting the EU.
Currently there are 330 Tory MP’s and the combined opposition consists of 229 Labour, 54 SNP, 9 Liberal Democrats, 5 Independents, 3 Plaid Cymru and 1 Green.
17 MPs represent the various parties in Northern Ireland and there is also one vacant seat as well as the neutral speaker.
The Tory actual majority is Sixteen (16) as Sinn Fein do not sit and the speaker and two deputies do not vote.
These are quite remarkable front pages from The Sun and Daily Mail in terms of context and language.
It represents May’s decision as some sort of leadership and to remove toxic elements that would interfere with Brexit.
Now, Labour’s response has been muddled, their leader Corbyn hasn’t been seen to directly oppose Brexit and many supposed that his tactic was to get to a vote once the terms for leaving the EU in 2019 were fixed and to gain from what has been seen as a chaotic handling of the EU issue both in the run up and aftermath of Article 50 being served.
Tim Farron’s Liberal Democrats see opportunity from taking the votes of those opposed to Brexit at expense of both the larger parties.
In Scotland, Brexit has been clearly opposed by the SNP and before the referendum all party leaders favoured remain, with the Scottish Tories then spinning their position behind Brexit as they oppose any further Independence Referendum.
2015 was a high water mark for the SNP in terms of taking 56 of the 59 seats in Scotland and leaving only a single Tory, Labour and Liberal Democrat otherwise.
The 2015 vote reflected a view that ‘The Vow’ had not been meaningfully implemented and that the further devolution or near Home Rule was not given.
Since 2015, there have been scandals where two SNP MPs have resigned the whip, leaving an actual number of 54.
In the 2016 Holyrood election with slightly different constituencies, the SNP took 59 seats, Tories 7, Liberal Democrats 4 and Labour 3. The additional member system accounts for the remaining opposition of 24 Tory and 21 Labour MSPs at Holyrood that remarkably includes those list MSPs that have repeatedly lost first by the post elections and candidates that failed spectacularly at constituency level but were on the regional lists as a precaution.
So we have a bid to ‘SMASH THE REMOANERS’ and ‘CRUSH THE SABOTEURS’ as the Daily Mail and Sun would have you believe.
The 2016 Brexit referendum had a 72.21% Turnout from the electorate of 46,500,001.
99.92% of votes were valid with 51.89% (17,410,712) voting Leave and 48.11% (16,141,241) voting Remain.
We have since heard of Brexit guilt and despite May’s attempts to say that the country should get behind Brexit, there is still a polarised view on the subject.
Prices have risen at supermarkets, there are issues for those EU citizens who live and work in the UK and the issue has been divisive particularly as majorities in Scotland, Northern Ireland and London voted Remain.
So, rather than risk rerunning the referendum we have a General Election, it will ensure there’s no second referendum on a Brexit as a Tory Win will be taken as a method of guaranteeing that there’s only a Westminster parliamentary vote on whatever terms are agreed by the end of March 2019.
It’s being not painted as being a Risky move by a Prime Minister with a limited majority.
Some Tories do doubt the wisdom of Brexit and can see potential damage to businesses in their own constituencies and the City of London.
The narrative is arch Tory and it is delivered through the media with the types of headlines above, not through persuasion of arguments and by facts and figures, as all of that would point to a more dubious view on the matter.
Democracy hasn’t been served by a decision based on a 2% margin.
It wasn’t served by what was a fundamentalist Leave campaign which made promises such as the £350 million a week for the NHS as on the infamous Brexit Bus.
The Leave campaign used much in terms of sentiment and little in terms of real hard fact.
There was no plan made in event of winning the referendum and the key players of Farage, Gove and Johnson are now noticeably quiet on ‘taking back control’ , they promised much and delivered little.
Indeed, restoring the blue passports so favoured by the brexiteers is reported to cost £500,000,000 (Daily Express 2nd April 2017).
So in terms of me, I’ll repeat my vote for the SNP in 2017 and I’d advocate that those in Scotland should be likewise. In Wales vote Plaid Cymru and if you’re in England just please don’t vote Tory.
I’d say something about Northern Ireland but even the MLA elections and aftermath is overshadowed by another election and it’s a whole subject in its own right, although the uncertainty and worry has been caused by Brexit and the affect on an area sharing a land border with the EU is different to the brexiteers notion of Britain starting at those white cliffs.
To end, May isn’t the decisive leader she is made out to be by the London Press, she has taken an opportunity and fashioned a direction out of it.
To hand hold with Donald Trump is poor judgement.
To push division by not listening to Scotland and Northern Ireland’s views on Brexit is poor listening and understanding.
To fail to realise the effects of Brexit and to float the idea of ‘Barista Visas’ is plain sheer stupidity and if you are a leader, you take stock of the situation and do not push ahead with a policy likely to take the country backwards.
May has gambled on an election helping her maintain power and to cement her hold on parliament and Brexit. She needs a wake up call from the English public in June.