A sudden overnight development happened in European politics, as British Prime Minister Theresa May announced early today there will be an early election. It appears that her motivation behind this abrupt shift is to hopefully give her Conservative Party a stronger mandate to push Brexit policy through, especially as negotiation with the European Union is gaining steam. In a press conference, May said, “The country is coming together, but Westminster is not.” She later explained that there was too much political gridlock and that needs to be remedied, hopefully with this election. “Labour have threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach with the European Union. The Liberal Democrats said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill. The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation… If we do not hold a general election now, their political game will continue,” May stated.
The election is now slated to happen on June 8th of this year. In the past May had expressed public aversion to this tactic, but now that Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the opposition Labour Party, has come under heat in recent months, May and the Conservative Party feel they can take advantage of the situation to extend their hold on the House of Commons, which right now is only a slight majority. The Labour Party, for its part, said it welcomes the early election.
Conservatives are not entirely gung-ho about this decision, as there are some risks that the party runs with this early election. One possibility is that anti-Brexit sentiment has spread and that will result in more Labour candidates getting elected. Another is that the Scottish National Party may encroach further on Labour seats, which would result in another attempt at a Scottish independence referendum and another monkey wrench into the Brexit negotiations.
This early House of Commons election will be the fifth vote in three years for Great Britain, once you include local elections slated for May 4th. May replaced David Cameron in July 2016 following one of those votes, the national referendum on Brexit that took place in the preceding month.