Well, that was a surprise. Out of nowhere, Theresa May stepped outside the door of Number 10 Downing Street this morning and announced that she was calling for a snap election. And this, after she flatly denied that there would be no general election in Britain until 2020. Only a month ago, she reiterated that now is not the time for a referendum on Scottish independence, yet it seems that it is the right time to shake up an already overtired electorate with yet another major voting session.

When I got the alert of the election announcement, my first port of call was to the big remain groups on Facebook to try and gauge the reaction from the vast amount of people who frequently write there. Along with the usual insults and vitriol slammed against Mrs May, there seemed to be an initial sense of glee across the posts. Most of the comments were also about the Liberal Democrats who, under the leadership of Tim Farron, have been campaigning on a resist Brexit tag since the result was announced. There is a belief that if they can tie up with the Greens, Labour, and possibly the Scottish National Party, there could be a chance of removing the Conservatives from office.

Second chance for remain?

But seriously, is this really a valid hope? Currently, the Tories have a decent mandate with recent polls putting the Conservatives 20 points ahead of Labour, and unless Labour can remove Corbyn, they stand no chance of getting close to causing any kind of impact on the electorate. In fact, there is a real danger that they could lose many existing seats and it has to be said that this election has probably come at the worst time for them.


What happened to resist Brexit?

As for the LibDems, well, despite what you may read on social media, they are not going to come up with the support that they need to affect the Tory majority. Granted, their popularity has indeed increased as a result of Labour and Conservative remain voters turning to them in the hope that they can somehow reverse the Brexit decision, but can they rely on those pledges come the 8th of June? I doubt it, to be honest. Those Labour and Conservative voters tend to be faithful come the day and will be scared of a ultra-liberal government. They may want to stay in Europe, but a lot of them will not want it if it means Britain becoming a more Euro-focused society.

Tally-ho Hardliners?

May has no doubt called this election in a bid to remove the hardline Brexiteers on her backbenchers ahead of the difficult negotiations that she and her government will face over the next 12-18 months. It’s most probable that they will eventually become a problem for her if she is forced to make decisions that will compromise the original out is out agenda.

Which begs the question – have we been underestimating Theresa May? Is it possible that she may be actually showing a sense of realism by anticipating that it is inevitable that Britain will have to compromise and end up staying in the single market or even continuing with freedom of movement? Only time will tell, but that should be revealed fairly quickly once the negotiations start.

Some will say that she is moving towards a complete consolidation of power and ensuring that the Tory party will have a massive majority in Westminster for at least the next decade. Could this result in Britain becoming more insular and far right with a possibility that UKIP, now rebels without a cause, will be swallowed up by a conservative superpower?

Sort Brexit after all?

While few outside of the far right will lament the loss of UKIP, in whatever form that takes, it doesn’t make sense to me that May and co. would be happy with an ultra-conservative government. I’m still thinking that she has a plan to keep Britain just inside the EU sphere, hopeful that they can be a new Norway and maybe even a potential candidate for a return to the inner circle in the future. A hard Brexit will mean that everybody loses. And it’s becoming clear that the British government knows this. Playing fair is now on the cards and it’s time to make sure that little or no opposition is in place to make as smooth a transition as possible. Remain is dead – there is no going back, no new referendum and certainly no revoking of Article 50, possible or not. Issues like the Irish border, Scottish independence and what place Britain will have in Europe are now more important than going through a futile fight for something that even the LibDems have accepted is inevitable. It’s now a case of getting the best deal. The Remain campaign needs to accept that getting back into Europe is a long-term goal now.
All of this is just conjecture of course and there is no doubt that there will be winners and losers in this fascinating political drama which wouldn’t sound strange as a script for a TV drama. And in that vein, we’ve hit the mid-season cliff-hanger, waiting eagerly for the next episode in a few months’ time. Some of the principle characters have already been killed off from season one and will the next instalments reveal that some have been playing for the other side all along?

For the outsider, it’s an incredible game of conceal and reveal with the best yet to come.

Ken Sweeney
Committed to idea of supporting aspiring writers and journalists. Serial podcaster.

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    1. I am not convinced that Brexit is now a certainty. Too many things are likely to go against the UK for the negotiation to be what May and her team want, indeed the EU negotiators have made that much very clear. There are two options that are stay in or get completely out. There are too many people who would be happy to see the irritant the UK has become out. That is now taking a course that in the wake of the Scots referendum appeared resolved a dilemma for them. The UK would stay together, so no problem regarding taking independent Scotland in against the wishes of some nations. Now notice of Brexit is served, the powers that be are informally winking and nudging Edinburgh toward being able to apply as soon as possible. Even Spain has said ‘no problem’, so there is not only the hard line promised but support for the demise of the UK that not so long ago they wanted to avert. With European encouragement, the Scots will have far more confidence, with May’s stance toward the Scots a second run could see independence. Then there is the prickly matter of the Irish hard border. That is actually played down, perhaps because it is the dark shadow behind the backdrop of Brexit. The Gibraltar. Careless words almost hinted at a European ‘Falklands War’, it will not be forgotten although the foolhardiness of one man. More stands to shake the foundations of the self confidence Westminster feigns with the real but too often denied likelihood of finance houses and banks leaving, large manufacturers wanting large deals to stay or else leaving too. There is more to be lost than gained, Brexit is itself fragile. If tactical voting is employed, the Tory majority could be undermined, perhaps persuade Labour they are letting the electorate down, not that I believe it probable, but one can not say for sure. By extending her mandate and making her an ‘elected’ PM in fact May has far more to lose. An unsuccessful Brexit that bites hard into the UK by 2022 would see the Tories topple, whereas by rights they should be playing for continuity under their hands. The possibilities are many but look in terms of the worst scenario in which hard Brexit is matched by far too little of the world trade the UK boasts it will have, immigration is anything but reduced because there is great need to bring in and keep personnel in fields the UK lacks its own people, a rump UK of England and Wales, with the latter no longer keeping quiet, and no light at the end of that tunnel. May would be leading a lost cause. She would go, taking her party with her but no well prepared party to replace her. Chaos would ensue, the price of Brexit. Pundits and the untouchables, aka experts, would have said what was happening, then suddenly proven right there would be no turning back. Those experts know all of what might happen now, whoever listens to them will benefit, but if that is the Liberal Democrats alone then the energy will be wasted. There is a way out, but that requires eyes, ears and minds opening by 8 June and an election that responds to what people learn between today and then, which in the immediate future will direct politicians rather than letting them tell people what is best for them. A lot of perhapses perhaps, but they are better than no hope. The remain groups across the EU share that optimism, it is simply that the depressed UK needs to be shaken back to cogency and accept that a serious mistake has been made that can be made good again.

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