DEBATE: Does Theresa May’s failure to win a majority lay the path for another election before the end of the year?

Tim Bale
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DEBATE: Does Theresa May’s failure to win a majority lay the path for another election before the end of the year?

YES – Tim Bale, professor of Politics at Queen Mary University of London.

Unless Theresa May surprises us all and makes the DUP “a big, open, and comprehensive offer” (copyright D. Cameron, 2010) of a full-blown coalition, then we’re going to see the Conservatives try to run a minority government dependent on Ulster Unionist support on “confidence and supply”. Even in countries where they’re taken for granted, like Denmark or Sweden, minority governments tend not to last as long as their majority equivalents. That’s likely to be even more the case in the UK where they’re a short-lived, and largely unloved aberration: think Harold Wilson in 1974 and John Major in the late nineties. No doubt many Tory MPs, especially those with small majorities, would like to put off the evil day – especially if Mrs May continues to lead them. Wiser heads will argue that the party would do better to control its own fate, put her out of her misery, and let a more convincing campaigner take the argument to an albeit reluctant country in the autumn.

NO – Sheila Lawlor, director of the political think tank Politeia.

This election, despite the campaigns of both main parties, was a Brexit election. The leftist media may not like the message, and so they are calling for another. But although the Tory machine did its best to bury Brexit, allowing Labour to run on more spending, less austerity, and to fudge the “how” of leave, both main parties backed Brexit. Corbyn’s Labour party changed its line on leaving the EU enough for voters to give him 29 extra seats. The big story of the campaign was that Remainers lost the day. The EU-loving SNP lost 21 seats, and the Lib Dem’s ardent Remain-philia left them with just four extra MPs. For the country’s sake, the demand for another election should be ignored. Theresa May’s Brexit plan was clear. She left no one in any doubt that the agenda for negotiations is now set. Nothing should distract from that clear agenda: to leave the EU and the Single Market and aim for a bespoke Customs Union.

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