Apr. 18th, 2017

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This is a semi-cunning plan. Like most of what Mrs May has been doing since she became Prime Minister, it's mainly about improving the position of the Conservative Party.

  • She would not be doing this if she didn't feel confident of winning the election. Given the disarray of the Labour Party, her confidence is not misplaced.

  • It created an instant dilemma for the Labour Party: support it and lose seats, or oppose it (and prevent the election - the vote needs a two-thirds majority) and open themselves to accusations of supporting everything the Conservatives do subsequently. In fact, Labour has welcomed it; Jeremy Corbyn may be delusional enough to believe he can win the election.

  • It gives May a personal mandate, rather than being the person who the Conservatives elected after the previous leader resigned.

  • It forces most of the press to decide if they support the Conservatives or UKIP.

  • It means that the Conservatives will be in power for a little over three years after Brexit, rather than just over one year. Since anyone other than the most fanatic Brexiteer would concede that there may well be short-term economic instability after Brexit, this increases the chance that the next election will be held under conditions of stability.

Overall, good politics, more questionable government. It delays the start of proper Brexit negotiations, and reduces the ability of negotiators to compromise. But that's probably what May wants when she says that this will bring "strong leadership" to the negotiations.


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