ATTENTION “Brenda from Bristol”!
I can’t remember a time when there has been so much uncertainty about the short and medium-term of British politics. With the Article 50 date for Brexit less than 6 months away and still no deal with the EU it is extremely difficult to project what’s going to happen in the coming months.
Labour is pressing for a general election and will use its MP numbers and what other power it has in the Commons to force TMay to go to the country again. That is understandable and all oppositions all the time should be wanting a general election as soon as possible even when, like Labour at the moment, they are behind in the polls.
But is it going to happen? Will it be necessary for Mrs May or her successor to go to the ountry at least 3 years ahead of the due date under the Fixed Term Parliament Act?
The prime minister’s position remains precarious and it was less than a week ago that we were being told that she would face a show trial when she attended the meeting of Conservative backbench MPs. It didn’t happen but the restlessness is still there. Many are not convinced of her EU approach.
The question of who would replace Mrs May should she go soon is also far from clear. The Home Secretary,Sajid Javid, is currently favourite on the Betfair Exchange but he is less than a 14% chance which is far from convincing.
The huge issue for Number 10 is going to be getting whatever Brexit deal is agreed through the Commons and there’s little doubt we’re going to see split votes amongst the main opposition parties as well as the government.
The pressure for a third EU referendum remains strong as we saw on the streets of London just 10 days ago. Even if there was another vote it is far from clear that the question would be to leave or remain. It might be that Mrs May would simply seek backing for whatever deal she negotiates the alternative being no deal and all the issues that that creates.
Time has almost run out for a 2018 general election and as can be seen in the chart the money increasingly has been going on one in 2019.
I am far from convinced. Even if Tories had a new leader there is no reason at all why that person should need a mandate and the experience of last year is a great reminder of what a fantastic risk going to the country would be.
I’m not betting on an early election.