For all the machinations of the past few days the betting is still on this Parliament running its full course

For all the machinations of the past few days the betting is still on this Parliament running its full course

It is hard to see the mechanics of an earlier election

Almost inevitably whenever there are big political developments taking place people start to speculate about whether there could be an early general election. It is certainly possible that should Mrs May fail to survive then her successor as Conservative leader might want to cement his or her position with the country by going early.

There is no constitutional reason at all why a new leader would have to call a general election. Mrs May didn’t feel the need to do so when she took over in July 2016 and made clear then that she would continue till the end of the Parliament. It was only after the Easter walking tour in Snowdonia last year that that view changed.

    It is always said, and this was borne out by what happened on June 8th last year, that those that seek to go to the country early risk getting punished by the voters. I’m sure the GE2017 experience has sunk deeply into the Conservative consciousness and that whoever replaces the Prime Minister will be reluctant to make that gamble.

The main reason for Theresa Mays successor to call an election would be to do what she was unable to do last year and secure a majority for the Conservatives. One of the problems with GE2017 is that putting your confidence in the polls is not necessarily a reliable guide to whether you will succeed.

Labour could try to force an early election but it would need to win a majority on a confidence motion against the government and simply the MP numbers are not there. Even if Mr Corbyn could persuade the SNP, the Liberal Democrats, and the other small parties to back it he still would not have the votes to exceed the Conservatives plus the DUP.

Corbyn might also find that the likelihood of the SNP and LDs backing such a move has been undermined by Labour’s ambivalence on Brexit.

In spite of all that has happened in the past few days and the potential for even more serious Conservative splits I believe that the next election will be as planned in the summer of 2022.

Mike Smithson

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