As the Tory Party conference kicks off, should Theresa May use the opportunity to call an early general election?

Theresa May
Theresa May is mistress of all she surveys (Source: Getty)

John Lehal, managing director at Insight Consulting Group, says Yes.

The case for an early election is overwhelming. Like Cameron, Major and Callaghan before her, Theresa May is finding out just how difficult governing with a small majority can be.

The government is divided on what Brexit should look like, while her domestic agenda, including the announcement on grammar schools, faces significant opposition from her own backbenchers. Without a mandate from the electorate, and facing a weakened Labour Party in opposition, May would be foolish if she didn’t call an early general election. An almost certain victory would bring a bigger majority, a mandate for her Brexit deal and the space to deliver a radical policy programme.

The government doesn’t yet have a plan for Brexit, and business leaders are rightly frustrated by the instability that this is causing. May has pitched herself as the steady hand needed to guide the country through this period of uncertainty, but she cannot fulfil this role without effective control of Parliament and her party.

Rupert Myers, a writer, barrister and associate fellow at Bright Blue, says No.

Of course Theresa May shouldn’t call an early general election. It isn’t just that she has said she won’t, and that the Fixed Term Parliament Act has resolved this into a non-issue: she doesn’t need to call a general election.

This is because, with Jeremy Corbyn seemingly intent on speaking to his selectorate within the Labour party, there is no effective opposition. What sort of politician squanders this sort of an opportunity to leave her opponents in disarray? Why would May put Labour out of its misery? The longer Corbyn leads Labour – barring an unforeseen miracle – the longer the party will be out of office.

Until a pressing reason to hold a general election arises, May can continue as our unelected Prime Minister on the strength of her relative popularity and her relative competence. Polls show a strong preference for her over Corbyn, so politically, legally and tactically the next general election should be in 2020.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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