So, as we commemorate the one year anniversary of Theresa May’s lost majority, we return to the theme of General Elections, and whether another snap poll is imminent.
Well, according to media speculation, election junkies may not have long to wait.
In this blog, Atlas Researcher and (one) of our election junkies Mike Hough looks at the current situation, how this could lead to a General Election and ultimately whether we should dust off our best pair of trainers for another tour of marginal seats.
Let’s begin by exploring the current situation.
On Tuesday the Brexit Bill returns to the House of Commons. In this mammoth sitting, MPs will vote on the 15 amendments passed in the House of Lords. The most controversial of which is the negotiating of a customs union arrangement with the EU.
What could happen at this point?
TABLE TENNIS ANYONE?
Firstly, the Prime Minister could win all of the votes in the Commons. The Bill would then return to the Lords. With the mood in the Lords hardening rather than softening, they are in no mood to acquiesce to the will of the Commons and could send the Bill back. Additionally, the now renowned “enemies of the people” could then seek to play havoc with Brexit legislation. The prospect of parliamentary ping-pong would loom large. Traditionally the Lords has to back down over any manifesto commitments. Brexit was in the Tory manifesto, but this manifesto did not secure a majority Government. Therefore, the Lords may see no need to stand down. This could lead to a high stakes game of poker with both the Lords and the Commons waiting to see who blinks first.
Well, they never really disappeared did they? A more possible scenario is the Prime Minister compromises, wins the votes and wobbles on. Leading Brexiteers will continue to rail against the ‘lack of guts’ displayed by the Government. Threats of leadership challenges will continue. But with the Brexiteers so close to their dream, will they really push the button marked leadership challenge? Never say never, but a leadership contest and a new Prime Minister is highly unlikely.
SO HOW THEN COULD A GENERAL ELECTION BE TRIGGERED?
Parliament would have to bypass the Fixed Term Parliaments Act to trigger a General Election. This would require either a Vote of No Confidence in the Government, or two-thirds of the Commons voting in favour of an early General Election.
Under both scenarios, sitting Tory MPs would need to be the archetypal Turkey's wishing for Christmas to come early. This isn’t going to happen. Firstly, Tory MPs are scarred from last year’s disaster and however divided they are on Brexit they are united by their fear of a Corbyn Government. They will not do anything that makes this more likely (the DUP MPs are also in this camp). Taking down their own Government or voting for an early General Election would definitely fall in this category.
Even in the long shot scenario where we have a new Prime Minister, they’d be ill advised to go to the country again with a divided tribe, a depleted war chest and Brexit no closer to being realised.
SO WE’RE SIDING WITH BRENDA
The Government is in a bind, but that does not mean a General Election is forthcoming. The potential for a stalemate does exist, but deciding to trigger a General Election to break that deadlock seems a bit dramatic. We are not at that stage yet!
Don’t worry Brenda. You are safe for now!