Not long after triggering Article 50 on 29 March, Theresa May called for a snap election due to take place on the 8 June. The dramatic announcement has been the cause of unrest throughout the country as Mrs. May was repeatedly adamant that she would not call for a general election until 2020 when the next was due to be held. The snap election, according to Mrs. May, was called to strengthen unity in a divided Westminster. ‘I have concluded the only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead is to hold this election,’ she said. ‘If we don’t hold a general election now, their political game-playing will continue and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run up to the next general election.’
Interestingly the pound saw an immediate rise as a result of the announcement, evidencing a sense of economic confidence in the UK. Britain’s economy has proved resilient with steady growth since the referendum despite all warnings that the economy would be damaged if Brexit was to happen.
Polls currently show a Conservative majority with the party in the lead by 21 points ahead of Labour. A YouGov poll taken before the snap election asking who the public would vote for ‘if there was a general election tomorrow,’ resulted in a Conservative majority of 44 percent with Labour second at 23 percent.
What does a Conservative win mean for Brexit?
If, as polls suggest, the Conservative government win the June election, it could mean very good things for the UK moving forward. The remain campaign often voiced their concerns about a UK trading under WTO rules if no agreement was reached when the two-year negotiation period ended. Some believe that this election will make this eventuality unlikely. With this mandate, May will have more power in parliament to stand up to her Euro-sceptic backbenchers who are hoping for a hard Brexit. A strong mandate for the prime minister will reduce the possibility for minority pressure groups to make every stage of the negotiations difficult in an attempt to stunt government progress with EU officials. The former home secretary will be able to pull on her own manifesto without being loosely tied to the promises made by her predecessor, David Cameron, when he presented his manifesto in 2015.
The government has already discussed their priority of introducing an implementation phase which would see new regulations and policies gradually introduced to allow for businesses across the country to prepare for the transition. A Conservative win would mean pushing back the next general election, which was due in 2020, to 2022. This would extend government’s implementation timelines in line with the EU draft guidelines. The extra time would also give the prime minister movement to discuss pressing terms with the Union like the UK’s exit bill, post-Brexit trade relationships with the Union and potential extension of negotiations.
Then there is the topic of the Scottish National Party pushing for a second independence referendum. According to the Financial Times, the Conservatives hold just one seat in Scotland. The snap election allows an opportunity for the Conservatives to present a unionist front to win seats back and change the minds of Scottish nationalists who hope for a second referendum.
Further reading: INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND UPGRADES UK GROWTH FORECAST