Colum Eastwood is on election alert apparently. Frankly, whilst Tory sabre rattling might give the impression that that is on, I suspect the Labour party is in no mood to indulge any change of heart in that regard. As George Eaton argues at the New Statesman…
Downing Street has insisted this morning that nothing has changed. “We’ve been very clear: there is no requirement for a general election,” a spokesperson said. But if, as seems likely, the government loses its appeal against the court ruling, the facts will have changed. Parliament will have a chance to prevent “hard Brexit”: defined as leaving the single market to regain control of immigration. The government’s working majority of 16 is too slight for May to be confident of prevailing on this point.
This is far from the only reason for the PM to alter her view (though the likelihood remains that she will not). The Tories enjoy an average poll lead of 15 points, an advantage that would deliver a landslide victory. Labour is performing at the worst level of any post-1945 opposition and is led by the still-more unpopular Jeremy Corbyn (the latest YouGov poll has him 31 points behind May and 20 points behind “don’t know”).
And, he notes…
Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who have demanded an early election, would struggle to resist May if she called their bluff. The Tories would miss the chance to introduce the boundary changes (due in 2018), which would gift them another 30 seats. But in view of their current poll rating, this is a small sacrifice to make. It is far from certain, in any case, that parliament will pass the legislation.
The longer May waits,, the greater the risk of a recession (be it Brexit-related or not) and of an opposition recovery (some of Corbyn’s own allies do not expect him to last till 2020). With her own mandate, she would be empowered to dismiss recalcitrant MPs and peers.
Quite. Then, with the phoney war over whether parliament should get to talk about the governments (still secret) approach) perhaps we might get to finally see what she actually has in mind.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty