Robert Harneis – TDO – (FRANCE)Citing the need for a stable majority for the next five years, British Prime Minister Theresa May, is calling for a general election on June 8th. In her statement, she acknowledged that this is in complete contradiction of her previous position saying ‘Since I became prime minister I have said there should be no election until 2020 but now I have concluded that only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take.’
Critics were not slow to point to the 20 point lead the Conservatives have in the opinion polls and her vastly better ratings as Prime Minister compared with Jeremy Corbyn, leader of a troubled Labour party, as her real motivation. They have a point but it may be that she has taken the decision ‘with reluctance’ with a view to a stronger negotiating position with the European Union.Politicians sometimes tell the truth. Apart from getting herself a stronger overall majority she may be hoping that the Scottish Nationalists will not do as well as at the last election, thus reducing their ability to disrupt Brexit. The SNP won 56 of Scotland's 59 seats at the general election in 2015, with the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats winning one each. Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said her party was ready, organized and optimistic about winning more seats this time. Things cannot get worse for the Conservatives north of the border and will likely get a bit better.
A further motive may well be economic. Since the unexpected Brexit vote, the British economy has done much better than Remainders expected largely due to the accompanyingdevaluation of the Pound. She may want to go to the country before this good economic weather changes for the worse. In addition,UK, personal borrowing figures are historically very high and have been growing faster than the economy. Consumers cannot continue indefinitely spending by incurring debt. When the present trend ends and borrowers are forced to tighten their belts, the economy will suffer.
Whatever her motives, Theresa May is giving up a strong position to get a better one but elections are always risky.