And so, the PM announces an election. A process more pointless than the vote to find the greatest Zimbabwean of all time1.
Ostensibly, this is about giving the Government a clear mandate for the Brexit negotiations, which is a load of old guff when you think about it.
Unlike the Referendum, this isn’t a one man, one vote sort of election – and that throws up all sorts of interesting questions and permutations.
If you’re a Hard Brexit-loving Conservative voter, and your Conservative MP is clearly pro-Remain, which way do you vote? Vote for your party and accept the traitor within, or vote for a different pro-Brexit candidate and run the risk of there being no majority Conservative government?
With apologies to Plaid Cymru, the two main pro-Remain parties are the SNP and Liberal Democrats. Even if everyone in Scotland voted for them, the best the SNP could do is gain five seats to take all 59 on offer in Scotland. Unless they’re really clever, and field candidates in bordering English constituencies. Which they won’t.
As for the Lib Dems… Let’s say that they went into coalition with the SNP, with the express purpose of withdrawing our Brexit letter. They’d need to command a majority in the House of Commons, rather than rely on the goodwill of a few malcontents from the Labour and Conservative parties. That means they’d need 266 seats on their own, to add to the SNP’s 59. That’s over 200 more than they’ve ever had, and almost half of the 533 seats on offer in England (or 532 if you ignore Speaker Bercow’s Buckingham constituency).
A tough call by any standard. I won’t list the things more likely to happen to me before Friday 9 June.
So what difference will this election actually make?
‘Taking back control’ is a fallacy, and any exit from European is a ‘hard’ one, given that Brexit is predicated on the notion that the European Union needs us as much (if not more) than we need the EU.
May will claim a mandate provided she doesn’t actually lose – and with the number of Labour MPs in favour of Brexit she won’t even need to form a coalition, she can govern without a majority.
Meanwhile, nothing substantively good happens to the lives of Britons. Starting from September 2007, we’ve had the run on Northern Bank, a global recession, a coalition government that spent half of its time arguing with itself, then Brexit. And the Brexit stuff still has two years to run, tying up large parts of Government machinery instead of improving manufacturing output, housing the homeless, shoring up the NHS and pension plans. You know – the stuff that allows people to live instead of merely exist.
- Your choices are (a) Robert Mugabe. [↩]