marctomarket.com / by Marc Chandler / April 19, 2017
UK Prime Minister May surprised the global investors and world policymakers by calling snap elections, precisely what the 2011 electoral law sought to prevent by fixing the date of elections. As recently as before the Easter break, May’s office denied the persistent speculation that she would (or should) maneuver for early elections. It is not an ethical or moral issue. It is pure pragmatic realism. The benefits of an election outweighed the costs and risks by a margin that could not be refused. Bold decisions are often those that achieve many objectives and this is not exception. The window opportunity may not have been open for very long.
There is the long-run strategic objective of ensuring that the conclusion of the Brexit negotiations are not held hostage by electoral politics and the previously scheduled election in 2020. There is the opportunity offered by her popularity which is helping to give the Tory Party more than a 20-point lead in the polls. Labour’s Corbyn is a vulnerable leader. Labour is expected to be trounced in the May 4 elections. There is some risk that the defeat force Corbyn out. Waiting too long, could risk facing a stronger Labour Party. UKIP appears to be faltering, losing to Labour in a special election in district that voted in favor of Brexit. It sole member of parliament, Carswell recently resigned and become an independent. The Liberal Democrats are positioned to pick up a few seats from its current nine (especially in Southwest England), but the Tories can pick up many more seats from Labour (especially in Northern England and Midlands). May will achieve her own mandate, which in turn strengthens her hand against both domestic rivals (within her party) and in negotiations with Europe.
There are risks associated with May’s move. To pull the end run around the 2011 electoral law, May needs the approval of Labour to secure the 2/3 votes needs. Corbyn quickly handed May his noose, while the Lib-Dem’s leader Farron also accept the gauntlet, and may be trying to position himself as the anti-Brexit leader. If her motion were to fail, it would force the less desirable alternative of a vote of confidence that May must lose to win the election.