THE TTALK QUOTES
On Global Trade & Investment
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No. 24 of 2017
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 19, 2017

Click here for yesterday's border tax quotes from Amy Porges
BRITAIN'S SNAP ELECTION

"I have just chaired a meeting of the cabinet, where we agreed that the government should call a general election, to be held on June 8."

Theresa May
April 18, 2017
CONTEXT
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 David Cameron and Nicholas Clegg 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.
COMMENT
Some of the quotes in this series are chosen because they express insights we wish to share and because, as often as not, they are springboards to useful discussions. Others we publish because they are milestones that mark important developments in even more important processes. Mrs. May's call for a June election is in this latter category.

As for how the June election will turn out, most observers today seem to feel that Mrs. May and her government are headed for a win, perhaps a fairly big win. But a lot can happen in two months, and in this topsy turvy world, it would be foolish for anyone to count electoral chickens before they hatch. Mrs. May herself has noted that all elections are risky. That said, we are inclined to share the hope expressed by The Financial Times that her gamble pays off. "While there are grounds for apprehension," the FT wrote yesterday, " it will be better for both the UK and the EU if Mrs. May has the flexibility she needs to negotiate."

There is not much more that needs to be said here. We are bound to return to this and other Brexit issues sooner rather than later. One should note, however, that the UK's June 8 election isn't the only election with potentially significant implications for the future of relationships among the countries that are now part of the European Union. This Sunday's election in France is bound to leave its mark on the process as well. À bientôt.
SOURCES & LINKS
The Prime Minister's Announcement
 is a link to the text of Prime Minister May's announcement yesterday (April 18) as published by Business Insider. 

About the Fixed Term Parliaments Act. This is a link to an article in the Telegraph which explains how this legislation works. It is short and useful but oddly they were way off base in their assessment of how difficult it would be to get Parliament to approve an out-of-cycle snap election.

The French Election is a link to the Wikipedia entry on France's imminent presidential election. Voting is set for this coming Sunday. April 23, with a runoff election scheduled for May 7 if there is no clear winner after the voting on Sunday. With 5 leading candidates and a total field of eleven, a runoff seems likely. Voting for the National Assembly is scheduled for June 11 and 18. And the betting is takes you to a site showing what the punters are saying about the likely outcomes of Sunday's voting.

The German Election is a the Wikipedia entry for this year's scheduled national election in the Federal Republic of Germany. The date has not yet been announced, but it will fall within the period between August 22 and October 22.

An FT Perspective is a link to the Financial Times editorial mentioned above.

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