The legacy from the coalition that ties Theresa May’s hands on an early general election

The legacy from the coalition that ties Theresa May’s hands on an early general election

She needs to restore the Royal Prerogative for this area

Back in May 2011 whwn Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats were negotiating the Coalition deal one of the key yellow objectives was the fixed Term Parliament Act.

Not wanting to get into a situation whereby the Conservatives could ditch the coalition well before the five years and go to the Country the LDs made this a key condition of putting David Cameron in Number 10.

Basically there are just two ways under the legislation in which a general election can take place ahead of the standard 5 yearly schedule: Firstly if there’s a House of Commons vote of no confidence motion in the government that is not rescinded within 2 weeks; or if the Commons decide on a two-thirds majority to call an election.

Before the act the decision on a when a general election should be held was totally in the hands of the Prime Minister who would invite the monarch to invoke the Royal Prerogative and dissolve Parliament on a date of the PMs choosing.

The current parliamentary arithmetic means that TMay would almost certainly need the backing of Labour to meet the two thirds threshold. Given the fact the the red team is trailing by so much in the polls it is hard to see enough LAB MPs voting for such a move even if Corbyn & co decided to do it.

The alternative route would be the bizarre spectacle of May’s government initiating a vote of no confidence in it itself.
Even then the PM could not necessarily count on the support of all CON MPs to back it. As we saw with yesterday’s latest CON MP resignation there’s disquiet amongst some of the blue team about the way TMay keeps things to herself particularly on BREXIT.

In addition there is a group of CON MPs who are not enthusiastic about an early election. Many of those who won seats off the LDs in May 2015 are reported to be concerned about have to seek re-election early. An LD win in Richmond Park would heighten those concerns.

So what about the final option? Simply repeal the act? That would certainly set off general election speculation but it would enable May to keep her options open.

Mike Smithson

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