Yesterday morning, the black door of No. 10 Downing Street opened and
Prime Minister May
took a few steps to a waiting podium where she made the above announcement. In the old days, that would have been it. But the government of
ushered in the era of fixed dates for general elections, spaced five years apart. The policy was formalized in the Fixed Terms Parliaments Act of 2011, which requires a two-thirds majority in Parliament for an out of cycle election. Mrs. May referred to that Act in her statement yesterday, saying, "Tomorrow I will move a motion in the House of Commons for a general election to be held on the eighth of June."
In a vote earlier today, Mrs. May more than got the two-thirds approval she needed. The vote was 522 in favor of a June election and 13 opposed.
Since becoming Prime Minister last July, shortly after the June 23 Brexit vote, Mrs. May has repeatedly said that she would not be calling a snap election. So why did she change her mind? Mrs. May explained:
Since I became Prime Minister I have said that there should be no election until 2020, but now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take.
There was, of course, much more to her statement, and you will want to read or listen to the full statement for yourself. For us, the most compelling argument she made in favor of a June election was this:
If we do not hold a general election now their [our opponents] political game-playing will continue, and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election.