Monday 21 January 2019

An election wouldn't get May off the hook

There has been a degree of speculation about Theresa May calling a snap election, with reports that some ministers have warned their local activists to be ready.  The Prime Minister has ruled it out and has already promised her party that she will not lead them into the next General Election, but given her record, neither of those are reasons to assume that she won’t do it.
Depending on the extent to which seats actually change hands, an election could certainly change the parliamentary arithmetic, but whether it unblocks the Brexit process is another question entirely.  It would force Labour to clarify its position in its manifesto, and a lot of questions have, rightly, been asked about what Labour’s manifesto would say about Brexit – whenever the next election comes.  Rather unfairly, considerably less attention has been given to the Conservative manifesto.  At one level, this is understandable: the PM writes the manifesto, and we can probably assume that it will refer to the implementation of her deal. 
But to what extent would any such manifesto actually bind the MPs elected on it?  Even if she were to win a working majority in such an election (itself very much open to doubt) is she really stupid enough to assume that Jacob Rees-Mogg, Boris Johnson, Anna Soubry and Dominic Grieve would all suddenly feel themselves bound to support her deal?  An election might well make Labour’s position clearer, but it will do little or nothing to resolve the internal conflicts within the Tory party.  Those conflicts have driven the Brexit mess from the outset; they will continue to do so even if, by some strange chance, the PM were to win a majority of seats in a snap election.  
As far as Brexit and the Conservative Party are concerned, an election would resolve nothing.  It would, though, kick the can a bit further down the road and therefore meet the only discernible political objective which the Prime Minister has.

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