Brexit: UK election makes a painful breakup more likely

Apr 19, 2017, 01:30

British Prime Minister Theresa May announced Tuesday that she plans to hold an early general election on June 8 in an effort to smooth the way toward the UK's split from the European Union.

That would make it easier for her to ignore opposition calls for a softer European Union exit - making compromises to retain some benefits of membership - and to face down hardliners within her own party who want a no-compromise "hard Brexit" that many economists fear could be devastating.

Speaking outside Number 10, the Prime Minister said the Cabinet had agreed to call an early election.

Theresa May had repeatedly denied that she would call an election before the next scheduled poll in 2020.

"The UK elections do not change our EU27 plans", Preben Aamann, a spokesman for European Council President Donald Tusk, said in a statement after Tusk spoke to Prime Minister May.

"She wants to have her own mandate and the mandate of the British people and I am very encouraged by her".

The borough's MPs are as divided in their response to Theresa May's snap general election announcement as the infighting alluded to in her speech this morning.

"Since last June's vote, however, other parties in Westminster have sought to frustrate the process of our exit and weaken the Government's negotiation position in Europe".

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Lord Hill, a former European Commissioner, told me when he came before the Foreign Affairs Committee that recent political discourse has been dominated by reruns of last year's referendum campaigns rather than by constructive discussions on how the United Kingdom can forge a new role for itself now that the referendum has taken place.

If the opinion polls are right, she will win a new mandate for a series of reforms she wants to introduce in Britain and also a vote of confidence in a vision for Brexit which sees the country outside the EU's single market.

And it's worth noting she owes her job to David Cameron's ill-fated gamble to call a vote on the UK's membership of the European Union previous year - a reminder Tory leaders don't tend to do well when they mix polls and Europe.

"This is your moment to show you mean it, to show you are not opposing the government for the sake of it, to show that you do not treat politics as a game", May said. She added, "The decision facing the country will be all about leadership". Labour Party leader Corbyn said he welcomed May's decision "to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first".

The Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, said: "On June 8 we have an opportunity to vote for the strong and stable leadership that both Wales and Britain need to see us through Brexit and beyond".

Tim Farron has called on the BBC to hold a debate without the Prime Minister, and represent her with an an empty chair.

And then there's the more legitimate reason for May to call this election.

This can not be allowed to happen, and is precisely why the Prime Minister was right to call a General Election.