Theresa May Wins: UK General Election on 8 June
May has won and her call for a general election has now been accepted by the majority of MPs. The main event of Wednesday (19/4/2017) took place in the House of Commons, beginning with Prime Minister’s Questions, then Theresa May’s election statement, followed by a 90-minute debate and finally the vote for an early general election.
Yesterday, May announced that she intends to hold a general election on 8 June 2017, but in order to do so, she needs two-thirds of MPs to vote today in the House of Commons. The motion the MPs voted on was "That there shall be an early parliamentary general election." The debate started at 1pm, and the results of the vote were given at 2.47pm.
The MPs had to vote for an early general election because of the Fixed-term Parliament’s Act 2011, which dictates that general elections must take place every five years. An election can take place earlier, however, if a motion is agreed by two-thirds of the whole House (434 MPs) or a motion of no confidence is passed without an alternative government being confirmed by the Commons within 14 days.
In an article published on Wednesday, Paul Mason joked that turkeys don’t vote for Christmas, especially when confronted with “someone in a butcher’s apron and a sharpened knife,” and that Theresa May is about to find out. The realisation, Mason stressed, that article 50 was triggered without any plan, no negotiating guidelines and an economy that is stagnant, has created panic and unanswered questions: “what replaces free movement; what our trade relationship to Europe will be; how much of European law gets ported into British law.” But such questions should be delegated to a future that might not arrive.
For now, Theresa May has managed to get an early general election and this will eventually help her when pursuing her Brexit strategy and negotiating with the EU.
The Commons debate: “Taking Candy from a Baby”
In the Commons, Tim Farron described Theresa May’s move to call an election after looking at the state of Labour, as the “political equivalent of taking candy from a baby.” But, when such an opportunity arises, May has to grasp it and move forward. Jeremy Corbyn’s inability to gather the Labour party around him, has inevitably opened the doors for the Conservatives and now is the time to act. Whether this is moral or cynical, we are within the political arena, so playing your cards right isn’t a matter of ethics, but of political pirouetting and opportune decisions.
According to Angus Robertson, the SNP’s leader at Westminster, May is calling for an election because she wants to eradicate the opposition and that it will be extremely difficult to pass a Brexit deal with the way things are now. He also pointed out that “For months we have heard from her that now is not the time for the public to vote, that no one wants it, that it is important to get on with the day job, that nothing should get in the way. But now as we have all learned, all of that was empty rhetoric.”
May said that having an election at this moment will strengthen the government’s position so that it can deliver a strong post-Brexit future. She also added: “Today we face a new question: how best to secure the stability and certainty we need over the long term in order to get the right deal for Britain in Brexit negotiations and make the most of the opportunities ahead. And I’ve come to the conclusion that the answer to that question is to hold a general election now in this window of opportunity before the negotiations begin. A general election is the best way to strengthen Britain’s hand in the negotiation.”
Jeremy Corbyn, however, said that how could anyone trust Theresa May when she had said in the past that there won’t be an early general election. He criticised the government for holding back Britain, but saw the early election as an opportunity for change: "Most people are worse off than they were when the Conservatives came to power seven years ago, the election gives the British people the chance to change direction.”
MPs voted on the motion by shouting “aye” or “no”. 522 voted yes and 13 voted no, which means that Theresa May’s motion passed with a majority of 509 votes. This is more than the two-thirds majority needed according to the Fixed-term Parliaments Act. Hurray, the elections will be happening on 8 June. May has encouraged the British people to “put their trust in me,” and they will, hoping for the best.
Since the Queen no longer has the power to dissolve Parliament, this will happen through the Fixed-term Parliament Act automatically, 25 days before the election date. Parliament then, will be dissolved on Tuesday night, 2 May, and the election campaign will begin.