British Prime Minister Theresa May called for a snap election (early next June), and her public reason was that Whitehall was too divided for her to be able to negotiate effectively with Brussels over the terms of the British departure from the EU. She wanted a mandate from the people.
Yesterday the British Parliament voted in favor of her call (under a 2011 law, the PM no longer can require a snap election on his/her own initiative; two-thirds of Parliament’s 650 seats must agree) by 522-13, much wider than those two-thirds (the Scottish National Party was among those who abstained from the vote).
Her real reason, magnified by the implosion of the Labour Party, is that her own Conservative Party, the majority party in Parliament, is itself too fractured. Conservatives can’t agree among themselves over the nature of Britain’s departure: should it be a hard, sharp, prompt break, or should it be a graduated withdrawal? Should there be compromise with Brussels over immigration into Great Britain, should there be a continuation of British payments into the EU in return for freer access to the EU’s common market?
Here’s what’s interesting to me about the aftermath of that June snap election (not the election itself, which general outcome seems a foregone conclusion). Polls, pols, and pundits all think the Conservatives can gain as many as 100 seats in Parliament, which would give them 430 out of the 650 seats, just three seats shy of a two-thirds majority (not so small aside: the election is scheduled to occur before the size of Parliament shrinks to 600 seats).
I’m curious about whether she gets those 100 seats, and I’m curious whether a seat gain of any significant size will reduce her party’s fractiousness or magnify it.
Her win in the snap could backfire on her.