Is Theresa May really thinking about what is best for the UK?
As England starts paving its way towards Brexit negotiations following the trigger of Article 50, another bombshell was dropped on Britain’s political arena. Theresa May, in an act of complete surprise, declared that she was calling for snap elections to take place in June. A mere 50 days away, the country is now being hastily prepped to deal with the upcoming general elections. May’s sudden U-turn has been a surprise manoeuvre considering she said no snap elections would take place. The general election, which was to take place in 2020, will now be pushed to 2022.
May’s decision stems from her need to steer Britain through Brexit and to allow the British public to decide who they think is best equipped to do so. Nicola Sturgeon, head of the Scottish National Party, is incensed. Her desire to hold a Scottish referendum on independence had been thwarted because May had stated that Britain needed to provide a united front during Brexit negotiations. Holding snap elections clearly proves that Britain is not a united front at all. Sturgeon is now even more adamant on pushing for another referendum in Scotland and will not concede defeat, despite the futility of her request.
The question then arises is, who can lead Britain during Brexit? Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party, has been berated by the British press due to reports of rampant anti-Semitism within Labour (an accusation he vehemently denies). He has also been a staunch supporter of the Palestinian cause which, no doubt, draws ire from the press fiefdom. He has also attracted criticism for his indelibly liberal views which are in stark contrast with an increasingly populist and nationalistic atmosphere. It is quite clear that a Labour win will be very unlikely. Several key Labour ministers have already declared that they don’t have confidence in Corbyn anymore and have switched sides or formed a new alliance.
Despite Corbyn’s gallant efforts at reviving the Labour party, it is very clear to see that for now, the Tories will win this election in a landslide, leaving them open to very little opposition and free to tackle Brexit as they wish. The Liberal Democrats had an extremely embarrassing outcome in 2015 election. It is unclear just how well they have recovered from that election and whether they have the prowess to tackle the Tories. Again, the Liberal Democrats do not pose a real threat to the Tories. Sturgeon has made it clear that the raison d’etre behind May’s snap election announcement is to enjoy even more untrammelled power when dealing with something as sensitive as Brexit. There are also likely to be more austerity cuts, tax hikes and a hard Brexit, which could isolate Britain and further damage its position once the details of the exit are negotiated.
With no real opposition, May will continue with her agenda oblivious to the whining of the other side and will be more headstrong in her approach. At the end of the day, she is trying very hard to unite a fractious and divided nation so her need to have elections is understandable. However, is she really thinking about what is best for the country? Could she not have waited until 2020 for the general election as she promised to countless media outlets?
A viral video has been making the rounds on social media of a flustered British citizen called Brenda becoming upset at the prospect of another election. It is such an apt portrayal of how many in the country feel.
The dust has barely settled following the explosive Brexit vote and here we are again, being thrown into a tumultuous election. Personally, I will be voting for Corbyn despite the unlikeliness of his win. However, with a Tory or Labour win, turbulent times are coming and many feel safer letting May steer the ship for now.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.