Tuesday, April 18, 2017

British general election: why now?

Under Britain’s Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, passed to get rid of the uncertainty under the unwritten constitution, under which an election could be called at any time, elections are now to be held every five years. BUT (and it's a big one) the prime minister can call a snap election if two-thirds of lawmakers vote for it. Today, the Rt Hon Theresa May announced that she would ask the House of Commons to back her call for an election to be held on June 8th, three years before the next scheduled date. Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said he would support the request.

Walt wonders why. Ms May was never elected Prime Minister, inheriting the position from David Cameron, who resigned shortly after the majority of English and Welsh Britons (but not Scots or Ulstermen) voted for Brexit -- secession from the European Union. But then, the British PM is not directly elected anyway. He/she is simply the leader of the party with the largest number of seats in the House of Commons, which happens to be Ms May's Conservatives. The June election is highly unlikely to result in a change of government.

Ms May's explanation is that since Britons voted to leave the EU in June, the country has come together, but politicians have not. She said the political divisions "risk our ability to make a success of Brexit.... Our opponents believe that because the government's majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course" on getting out of the EU. "They are wrong," she said. "They underestimate our determination to get the job done and I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country."

That doesn't sound right to me. The real opposition to Brexit comes not from Mr Corbyn's Labour Party, which is even more divided than Ms May's Tories, but from the liberal one-worlders who dominate the British meeja and are strong in both parties. These anti-Brexit forces, aided and funded by George Soros, were in the streets (literally) immediately after the referendum, demanding a do-over. Petitions bearing millions (literally) of signatures have been presented to Parliament. But, as in the USA, the people have spoken and there will be no redo.

But what if, what if Ms May's party loses the June election, or finds itself in a minority position in the next House of Commons? Ms May, who is personally opposed to leaving the EU, but obliged to follow the expressed will of the people, has asked for a mandate to negotiate the type of Brexit that many pro-Leave MPs desire: i.e., the UK remains in the single market but does not sign up to the Freedom of Movement Act which was the reason the majority of Britons voted to take their country out. If she doesn't get that mandate, she could interpret the loss as a signal that the British people have changed their mind about Brexit, and call a halt to the whole thing.

The water is muddied further by the upcoming French presidential election. See "Marine Le Pen criticizes Pope, Church for interfering in French politics", posted here yesterday and "'Vote for civilization!', Marine Le Pen tells French", WWW 5/2/17. The election of Marine Le Pen would be widely viewed as a precursor to a "Frexit" -- the withdrawal of France from the EU. If France goes, what would be the point of Britain staying in. The future of Europe should be much clearer by the summer solstice.

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