Expert comments on Theresa Mays General Election announcement

Dr Rob Dover from the School of History, Politics and International Relations has written an article for Think: Leicester discussing Theresa May's surprise announcement to hold a General Election in June of this year.

In the article he says: "The calling of the June 2017 General Election was a surprise for several reasons: Firstly, Theresa May had said - on six separate occasions in her first few months in office - that she was not going to call an early election. Secondly, that the Fixed Term Parliaments Act sets out in law that this Parliament is due to expire in 2020.

"We could reasonably assume – as the parlous state of the Labour Party’s candidate selection process and manifesto preparation demonstrated this morning – that 2020 was going to be the date. Even more surprising, perhaps, is that all the major parties have rolled over and played dead to May’s demand for this election – they could have very easily blocked it, by not voting for it. As it is, the turkey that is the Labour Party has not only voted for Christmas, it has brought the gift of a book of stuffing recipes too.

"The hard-Brexit fringe – which was a very marginal element of the Conservative Party during the 1990s and noughties – has found itself able to call many of the shots in the permissive environment of a very small Parliamentary majority. And whilst the Prime Minister undoubtedly does now carry some personal loss of political capital having campaigned for remain and reversed, and having ruled out an early general election and reversed, she is right to think that having a militant hard-Brexit wing to her Parliamentary party is going to cause her substantial problems when she has to compromise on freedom of movement, the role of the European Court of Justice and membership of the common market, as she will have to do even if it is just in the transitional phase.  A large Parliamentary majority of over 75 will provide the Prime Minister with the sort of wriggle room she needs to make the compromises she will need to make. This is sensible politics, albeit very opportunistic politics.

"This looks like the safest calculation a British Prime Minister will have ever had to make, but elections are strange things and the voting public are volatile."

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