Why Exactly Is the UK Holding an Early Election?
Reporting by Elena Sheppard.
Did your phone blow up with alerts on Tuesday announcing that British Prime Minister Theresa May was calling for an early election? Ours too. But what exactly does that mean? And how will it impact Brexit and the United Kingdom as a whole?
Let’s have a look.
First off, what happened?
In a very unexpected statement delivered on Tuesday, Prime Minister May made clear that she would like to hold snap elections on June 8—three years before the next scheduled election was set to take place. Her M.O. really being to unite both the nation at the members of Parliament at Westminster. “At this moment of enormous significance, there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division,” she said. “The country is coming together, but Westminster is not. We need a general election and we need one now.” Of course, this is all alluding to Brexit and the deep divisions between the country that muddle the nation’s plans to leave the European Union.
What happens next?
On Wednesday, members of the British Parliament approved Prime Minister May’s request and it’s now confirmed that an election will be held in June. According to the rules, parliament must dissolve 25 working days prior to the election, so preparations are being made for that to happen on May 3.
But let’s get a little nitty-gritty. Brit’s don’t really vote for a prime minister, instead, they vote for a candidate to represent their district in Parliament. The prime minister is then chosen according to which party has the most members in Parliament. In 2011 a new law was passed saying that elections would be held every five years or if one of two issues was occurring. 1. The members of Parliament lose confidence in the government. 2. More than ⅔ of Parliament vote in favor of a snap election. The latter is what Prime Minister May just pushed through.
Could Prime Minister May lose?
It’s very unlikely that she would lose her strength in Parliament, and in fact, she’ll probably gain even more support. Polling recently done by the Independent/Sunday Mirror showed the Conservative Party (i.e. May’s party) 21 points ahead of the Labour Party (who are the runners up). The leader of the Labour Party is Jeremy Corbyn and were his party to take the majority in Parliament, he would take over as Prime Minister. Again though, that’s highly unlikely and what’s more likely is that May’s support grows and the power behind Brexit does too.
That said, if the most recent American election taught us anything, it’s that polls can be very, very wrong.
What is the outcome she hopes for?
May’s perceived hope is that her party will once again win, giving them the confidence of the nation to move forward with Brexit how they see fit. She hopes that if the conservatives win again, other political parties will need to quiet their discontent about Brexit. “If we do not hold a general election, 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 scheduled election,” she said.
Why is this such a big deal?
For many reasons, one of which being the fact that Prime Minister May up until recently was saying she wouldn’t hold early elections. It’s also a big deal because it provides an official space for anti-Brexit voters to make their voices heard. That said, if they one again lose, Prime Minister May will be more empowered than ever.