United Kingdom

19 Apr 2017

Theresa May confident of winning, Labour in distress

Theresa May sounded confident today about the possibility of winning the June snap parliamentary elections, in an interview with Nick Robinson on BBC4 Radio. Yesterday, the British prime minister announced her intention to lead the United Kingdom to elections, three years earlier than scheduled. May seems to have surprised the opposition parties with this sudden move, despite the fact that she had previously argued that she wouldn’t hold elections before 2020.

Robinson asked her if she has doubts about the timing of the elections since she had said repeatedly that early elections would be wrong for the country. Theresa May answered that she came to that decision reluctantly, having looked at the circumstances and at the upcoming negotiations. The BBC radio host asked her if she regrets breaking her word by forgetting her calls for stability and holding elections. Theresa May repeated what she said in her speech in front of 10 Downing Street: “I do get on with the job. When I became prime minister, the UK needed stability. We got through the process of working on Brexit and triggered article 50. Around the time we triggered article 50, it became clear that the opposition intended on frustrating the process. The Liberal Democrats said they wanted to grind the government to a standstill. Labour said they might vote against the final deal.”

May was asked about the purpose of holding elections at this specific moment. The prime minister replied that “there are two things. If the public gives us a mandate, and backs our plan for Brexit, that will strengthen our hands. If we had not called for an election, we would have been concluding the talks just before an election. We want the best possible deal. An election will create certainty.”

Robinson didn’t hesitate to ask for her comment on the Daily Mail’s front page title “crush the saboteurs”, which sparked negative comments from the internet users. Theresa May said that she doesn’t see her opponents like that and that people are entitled to express their views. In her first radio interview, after calling for snap elections, the British prime minister didn’t want to reveal details on the new Tory manifesto, but repeated that there is not going to be a second referendum on Brexit.

Theresa May confirmed her will not be taking part in TV debates saying that “campaigning and knocking on doors is a better way”. Nick Robinson asked her if she announced the elections because she had a 20-point lead in the polls. May replied that “every election has a risk. No politician wants to go into an election just for the shake of having an election,” hinting that the polls played a significant role in her decision.

Nick Clegg, who will be standing again for parliament with the Lib Dems, accused May for “calling a general election out of opportunism and intolerance. Opportunism in seeking to exploit the weakness of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership of the Labour party and intolerance in seeking a majority with which she will impose whatever interpretation of Brexit she wishes.”

David Mundell, the Conservative Scottish secretary, said that the prime minister wants a clear mandate to move on with the Brexit negotiations in the next years, while Nicola Sturgeon proposes a divisive referendum during the period of the negotiations with the European Union. In the Labour camp, several MPs pressed Jeremy Corbyn to not support May’s push for elections in June. Their fear is that a lot of them will lose their seats in the parliament due to the bad poll results that show Corbyn’s unpopularity among the electorate. Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the elections, during the PMQ’s and attacked May for denying participation in TV debates calling her “a person who cannot be trusted. One that avoids talking about why people are getting poorer.”

Despite May saying that it is important for Britain to be united and asking from people to put their trust in her, many analysts are not sure if holding the elections in June might backfire since her opponents accuse her of breaking her word. On the other side, the Labour party seems to be too weak to develop a momentum in such short time. Taking into consideration the current situation in British politics, it looks like Theresa May will be leading Britain for the next years.