By Jamie Grant
Cry ‘Mandate’, and let slip the future of the country.
“Now is not the time”. May perhaps regrets those sentiments towards Nicola Sturgeon’s call for a second independence referendum, now that May herself has plunged the country into fresh instability through calls for a June general election.
Scarcely eight months after declining calls for a general election, May has seized the tactical advantage, gunning for a deeper majority than her current 17.
The 2011 Parliamentary Act removed from the PM the power to choose a politically convenient time to hold a General Election, requiring a two-thirds majority in the House of Commons to support such a motion.
What we’ve seen from the press and associated media is a dangerous move – they have eroded the narrative that the law must be held, instead encouraging the narrative that the opposition parties morally cannot vote down such a motion. They should always be ready for the chance to replace the government of the day.
The inadequacies of that legislation have now been laid bare. And it only took six years to exploit the loophole.
By framing the opposition as actively working against the ‘national interest’ of Brexit, she has positioned the Conservative Party as the natural home of the British patriot. This should have us all worried indeed.
May has unleashed a chaos she cannot hope to contain.
Scotland is on the edge of independence. A formal Section 30 order from Holyrood to Downing Street, requesting the power to hold a second independence referendum, has gone unheeded. Northern Ireland still has no government. The Conservative Party are still under investigation for dubious electoral expenses in the 2015 GE. Wales and Cornwall remain desperate for post-EU funding guarantees. Gibraltar hangs by a thread.
So what next?
Tomorrow May will move a motion to the House of Commons, seeking the required two-thirds majority to seek the dissolution of Parliament. Labour and the Lib Dems have thus far said they will support this motion, all but ensuring its success.
Massively ahead in the polls, May hopes to inflict serious damage to her opponents, espousing a hard-Brexit message that Farage would be proud of. It’s the soft-Brexiteers I feel sorry for, as they’ve nowhere to go but cling and pray the Conservatives self-moderate in the years to come.
Predictions abound, but this may be Lib Dem leader Tim Farron’s time to shine. The 2015 GE saw the SNP in Scotland surge, mostly in reaction to the post-2014 #IndyRef fallout. Promises and vows broken, and the issue of Scotland arrogantly dismissed since the danger of independence had passed.
This GE could see a similar coalescence around the 2010 coalition’s biggest losers. Their firm anti-Brexit stance calls for a second EU referendum on the final deal and Labour’s muddled weakness may be exactly what is needed for the Lib Dems to rise like the Phoenix as the liberal left’s champions, and emerge with serious gains.
Scotland will likely see little change – the SNP have it on lockdown, so to speak. A few seat losses could be expected, yet they still regularly poll in the high 40s. Fighting a GE so soon after council elections may prove fatigue-inducing for even seasoned Scottish politicos however, and declarations of a second referendum from the SNP will provide a rallying cry for Unionist tactical voting efforts.
Northern Ireland’s situation is as regrettable as it was totally avoidable. May has poured fuel on the fire, and placed enormous strain on already tenuous power-sharing negotiations between Nationalists and Unionists.
H.M.S Brexit Mayhem is heading for dangerous waters. Icebergs lay dead ahead. The EU lighthouse is turned off. Man the lifeboats.