Prime minister calls general election in United Kingdom, seeking stronger Brexit mandate

Andrew Cummings
April 19, 2017

On Tuesday, Farron said that "if you want to avoid a disastrous hard Brexit, if you want to keep Britain in the single market, if you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance". Standing outside her Downing Street office, May said she had been reluctant about asking parliament to back her move to bring the vote forward from its planned date in 2020.

The polls now suggest that the Conservatives will win out, with a potential shift of around 72 seats in their favour, while Labour is expected to lose 75, and the Lib Dems will hold their ground. Her decision, she says, was motivated by the need to secure political stability in Britain as it moves towards Brexit.

"The election should hand Theresa May a much bigger mandate to stand up to the harder-line, anti-EU backbenchers who now hold a disproportionate sway over her party's stance on Brexit", said Aberdeen Asset Management investment manager Luke Bartholemew. This is a surprise? Yes. On Tuesday, less than a month after officially beginning Brexit, Theresa May has made one of the most astounding U-turns in recent political history. She has said she does not want to be distracted by time-consuming campaigning. She was just waved through to become party leader and PM.

Whatever happens after then, she'll likely have a fresh mandate and a strong majority with which to face it. She will also be hoping to strengthen her hand in talks with the European Union, which will start in earnest in June.

The Prime Minister somewhat petulantly asserted that "we need a general election and we need one now" because she claims the political divisions at Westminster are jeopardising the Brexit negotiations. Faced with choosing between hard Brexit or an ineffectual opposition, the decision facing the swathes of the population who want neither is unsatisfactory: a narrow choice split neatly between the opposing poles of power or protest.

Speaking to The Sun, Mrs May said: "What I hope comes out of the election is support from the public to say we agree with their plan for Brexit, so that when I go into Europe I've got that backing of the British people". Why is she doing this?

By contrast, she now has a fragile working majority of 17, and party strategists have warned her that opinion poll ratings are likely to fall as austerity measures bite and Brexit talks proceed. The Conservative Party is around 20 points ahead of the main opposition Labour Party. They are riding high in the opinion polls, with the Labor Party under Jeremy Corbyn in disarray, the centrist Liberal Democrats weak, and the shambolic far-right UK Independence Party, if anything, more a threat to Labor than to the Tories.

She added: "People have a unity of objective".

She's right, of course. Cunningham won with 42.3% of the vote in 2015, a 0.5% gain on 2010 and 7.3% more than Conservative Gary Ridley who came second.

Sterling rose to a four-month high against the USA dollar after the market bet that May would strengthen her parliamentary majority, which Deutsche Bank said would be a "game-changer" for the pound.

Many analysts believed that the Prime Minister would refuse to hold an early general election.

May triggered a two-year countdown to Britain's exit from the European Union last month, and high-stakes negotiations to settle divorce terms and agree on a new relationship are expected to start within weeks.

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