The British Prime Minister, Theresa May, has called for an early general election – ahead of 2020 – scheduled for 8 June 2017.
In her speech today, of 18 April 2017, in which she made this announcement, the Prime Minister rightly described the situation in Britain as a “moment of enormous national significance”.
This being the case, the speech merits serious scrutiny. As it happens, both criticism and contradiction are not difficult to pick out.
“Britain is leaving the EU … We want … a UK that is free to chart its own way in the world. That means we will regain control of our own money, our own laws and our own borders…”
In the Conservative government’s own Brexit White Paper, The United Kingdom’s exit from and new partnership with the European Union, published in February 2017, the issue of sovereignty was addressed thus (Cm 9417; 2.1):
“The sovereignty of Parliament is a fundamental principle of the UK constitution. Whilst Parliament has remained sovereign throughout our membership of the EU, it has not always felt like that.”
In Theresa May’s speech she is defending her support of Britain’s leaving the European Union by claiming that the country will regain control of its own laws despite the fact that her own government’s own White Paper has already stated that Parliament has remained sovereign throughout membership of the European Union. She is, therefore, contradicting her own White Paper.
“At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division. The country is coming together but Westminster is not.”
A cursory glance at any media within the UK would confirm that not only does division exist, but furthermore that it is not exclusive to Westminster. This of course, pertains to conversation amongst the general public, also.
“[This general election] will be a choice between strong and stable leadership in the national interest, with me as your Prime Minister, or weak and unstable coalition government led by Jeremy Corbyn, propped up by the Liberal Democrats, who want to re-open the divisions of the referendum, and Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.”
This implies that a Conservative government – led by Theresa May – will not “re-open the divisions of the referendum”. General elections are themselves unavoidably and inherently divisive; but the notion that a general election through which a referendum is essentially being played, which was itself tremendously divisive, is so transparently absurd that it demonstrates utter contempt for the public.
If “unity” and the extinguishing of “uncertainty” and “instability” are the Prime Minster’s aims, then there can be no more counterintuitive and counterproductive act than the calling of an early general election.
“In recent weeks Labour have threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach with the EU, the Liberal Democrats have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill, the SNP say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the EU and unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way. Our opponents believe because the Government’s majority is so small that our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course.
If we do not hold a General Election now their political gameplaying will continue … and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country.
So I have a simple challenge to the opposition parties. You have criticised the Government’s vision for Brexit, you have challenged our objectives, you have threatened to block the legislation we put before Parliament. This is your moment to show you mean it, to show you are not opposing the Government for the sake of it, to show that you do not treat politics as a game.
Every vote for the Conservatives will make it harder for opposition politicians who want to stop me from getting the job done. Every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger…
[I]t is with strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.”
The Prime Minister appears to believe that a Conservative majority in this early election of 8 June 2017 will remove all future opposition to Brexit negotiations.
The Prime Minister is attempting to delegitimise all opposition; nothing could be more undemocratic – nor, on that philosophical level, in starker contrast to a concept upon which a number of voters apparently casted their vote to leave the European Union on 23 June 2016.
This general election is an absolute power grab by the Conservative government and Prime Minister Theresa May.