The prime minister of Great Britain and Northern Ireland asked parliament to set an election date of June 8, delighting her own party and political geeks around the world (Telegraph).
Normally, the election would begin as soon as the PM wanted one. In this case, however, Parliament could actually turn her down under the fixed term parliaments act of 2011. Indeed, she needs two thirds of the MPs to agree to an election. At least, that’s the theory. In practice, Theresa May will get the election she wants. Here’s why.
First, of course, her own party wants an election. Like everyone else in Britain, the Conservatives can read the polls. They see there well ahead of the opposition. They’re dreaming of hundred plus seat majorities and such. Not that they’ll actually get it, they’re weaker in their southern heartlands then they realize. Still, the prospect of one last term in office before the Boundaries Commission wreaks havoc on them will be more than enough for Tory MPs.
Secondly, despite its horrible position in the polls, Labour wants an election, too. Of course, different party factions have different reasons for that. Supporters of Jeremy Corbyn think he can at last show what terrific leader he is for the party. Anti-Corbyn Labourites, by contrast, are hoping an election drubbing will finally lead him to stand down (or be challenged and replaced as leader). Indeed, Corbyn himself has said he welcomes an election, and if he can play the expectations game right, he might just get through it.
Finally, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP also want an election. For the LibDems, it’s obvious. As the most Europhilic party in Britain – and with the PM effectively establishing herself as Madam Brexit in her election announcement this morning – Tim Farron’s party is certain it can pull seats from both major parties. For what it’s worth, I think they’re right, meaning Labour could lose some seats in London and other urban areas while the Conservatives could be in trouble in the South West and in the South East. As for the SNP, another election provides the perfect distraction from their own governing woes in Scotland, while giving them a proxy on support for their independence-to-return-to-the-EU line. I think they’re in for some rude surprises in the Highlands and in the Border areas, but they’re not listening to me (and given my record of prognostication, they’d be wise in that).
In fact, I would say the only Westminster parties that really don’t want another vote are the Northern Ireland parties. All of them are either going through crises or suffering general weakness (and in the case of the Ulster Unionist Party, both). Sinn Fein will be thrilled to have a vote after their March surge in the NI Assembly, but their MPs don’t take their seats.
All in all, expect an overwhelming vote to dissolve Parliament, far higher than the 2/3 majority needed. Then the real fun begins.