Prime Minister Theresa May has called for snap elections in an effort to expand her influence over parliament and thus the government. While the move caught some off guard, with May having previously denied the possibility of snap elections, in hindsight it makes a lot of sense. May is looking to expand the Conservatives’ power in parliament and to ensure that parliament is unable to interfere with Brexit efforts.
Ultimately, May is calling the snap elections in an effort to expand her control over parliament. If she can gain more seats, she’ll have more control over exit negotiations from the European Union. Right now May’s majority in parliament is quite slim, and even within her own party she is facing some resistance. This means she has a weak mandate.
The most recent Yougov polls show Conservatives wracking up big victories in the election. Labor is likely to come in distant second with Liberal Democrats and UKIP fighting for third place. May’s own personal approval ratings are also quite strong and 48% of Brits believe in her ability to negotiate the EU exit. May is hoping that her high personal approval ratings and support for the Conservative party will translate to gains in the June 8th snap election.
The move, however, does carry some risks with it. It’s possible that May’s opponents will use their own power and position to actually reduce May’s influence over parliament. The June 8th snap elections have already been approved by parliament, though the outcome remains uncertain. May is expected to retain her Prime Minister position. However, it is possible that the snap elections will galvanize the opposition and allow them to secure gains.
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund has upgraded its outlook on the United Kingdom. Many economists had grown cautious, if not outright pessimistic, that Brexit would restrain economic growth. Now, optimism is gradually winning out the day. The IMF upgraded its 2017 projections from 1.5% growth to 2.0%. Growth for 2018 has ticked up from 1.4% to 1.5%.
Rosier projections should help May and the Conservatives in the forthcoming snap elections.
EU Unlikely to Soften Stance
Meanwhile, the European Union is pushing ahead with its own plans for handling the Brexit. European Union officials have been quite miffed by the United Kingdom’s choice to exit the Union. May has been given the cold shoulder at events, and EU organizations have already begun their pull out.
EU leaders will next meet on April 29th. The Union is aiming to have its own negotiating platform in place by May 22. On or before that day the EU plans to deliver its positions to chief negotiator Michel Barnier. With the UK snap elections scheduled for June 8th, however, and the British government set to be dissolved, the EU may move more leisurely.
Still, the European Union is unlikely to dally about too much. EU officials have expressed interest in wrapping up negotiations by October of 2018. The official exit deadline isn’t until March of 2019, however.