May’s Snap General Election

Democracy
Sunday, April 30, 2017
Matthew Green

Not so long ago I placed a bet on there being a general election before 2020 and I have now doubled my money. My prediction was that there would almost certainly be a point during Brexit when the Prime Minister would need a greater majority than twelve seats to avoid some sort of roadblock. Whether it would have been to win a vote against Remoaners, the Lords or Tory Brexit rebels, Theresa May needed more security in the fundamental game of numbers in the voting lobbies.

 

Theresa May has clearly come around to the view that she should cash out (if you’ll forgive the betting reference) on her lead in the polls and not let events reach such a crisis point in the future when the realities of government and the enormity of the task of completing Brexit might mean she is not in such a favourable position electorally.

Beyond just the simple numbers of MPs elected, a new manifesto helps bring potential Tory rebels of both the Remain and the Leave variety into line, as they will have been voted in on the basis of what is said in that document. Conservative Party discipline will not be something that Theresa May will want to get out of hand.

 

Furthermore, the Lords are expected not to dispute manifesto commitments. This should ensure fewer repeats of the kind of resistance to Brexit we saw in the Upper House in the build-up to the triggering of Article 50.

 

As a great believer in parliamentary democracy, I am sceptical of referendums, particularly ones that create the possibility of a mandate with no government behind it. It felt strange to see the Vote Leave campaign dissolve just a few days after it had pulled off such a momentous victory and if it hadn’t been for the incredible ability of the Tory Party to adapt in order to stay in power, we would have been in very choppy waters constitutionally indeed. I am pleased therefore that this election will most likely result in Brexit having a government behind it and just as crucially, one that can truly be held accountable for it.

 

Finally, although it is undoubtedly central, this election will be about more than Brexit. Theresa May will have been thinking about what she would do if she was Prime Minister for years now and I highly doubt that carrying out Brexit would have been what she envisaged until recently. She will have her own ideas and proposals for the country in other policy areas and we should be ready to scrutinise these in line with our conservative principles.