Theresa May’s Brexit negotiations with the European Union (EU) are going very, very wrong and there is speculation that the U.K. could be heading for a snap election — cue eyerolls and yawns nationwide.
Both the ruling Conservatives and opposition Labour party appear to be considering the possibility of a snap election as early as November, particularly in light of May’s disastrous meeting with her EU counterparts in Salzburg last week, at which they appeared to throw her and her Brexit proposals under the bus.
With the humiliating rejection of her ‘Chequers plan’ that was designed to keep the U.K. closely aligned to the EU, the prime minister is looking vulnerable abroad as well as at home.
The Sunday Times reported that two senior aides within May’s Downing Street team had responded to her “summit humiliation” last week by suggesting that an early general election in November could help save both her leadership and her job.
The newspaper said that one unnamed senior aide said to another Tory strategist: “What are you doing in November? Because I think we are going to need an election.” For its part, Downing Street has denied the reports as “categorically untrue.”
Labour certainly seems to be preparing for another possible vote, although whether it’s a snap election or a second Brexit referendum is the big question. As the party holds its annual conference in Liverpool, the spotlight is on what leader Jeremy Corbyn — known for his ambivalence toward the EU — thinks.
Pressed on the issue of another referendum (a tricky one for Labour, with many of its supporters voting for Brexit) by the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday, Corbyn said he would back party members if they wanted another EU vote, although he said he’d prefer to have a general election.
Senior Labour party member Emily Thornberry also suggested recently that she was confident that a general election would happen in the fall or in spring 2019.
U.K. voters are likely to be spluttering into their cups of tea at the prospect of another vote on either Brexit or another general election so soon after 2017’s snap vote. As we all know, the British public punished what it perceived to be an arrogant move by May in calling last year’s election and it cost the Conservatives their majority in parliament.
That vote showed that U.K.’s voters are more than ready and willing to deliver a bloody nose to the political establishment given half the chance — especially when it is a suspected political ploy or power grab. There’s every likelihood they’d do so again if another snap election is called.