Parties are doing a lot of posturing about the idea of a fresh election right now...
The Independent reports today:
“Labour is stepping up its preparations for entering Number 10 by drawing up a draft Queen’s Speech which would ensure the party is ready for a snap general election.
“Shadow cabinet members are due to attend an away-day in London on Monday, where they will present ideas for up to 35 bills to stretch out for an entire parliament, party sources confirmed.”
The party was buoyed by its huge surge in last year’s election, and has been setting out its plans for government.
It’s not just Labour. An SNP source told me:
“The SNP has been working to ensure we are fully prepared if a snap general election is called…[but] rather than obsessing over how to use Brexit to seize power, it would serve the Labour party well to come up with any sort of plan, and work with opposition parties who have been holding the Tories to account as they edge ever closer to the cliff-edge.”
No matter. A number of factors make a snap election unlikely (though not impossible).
Parliament breaks up between the 24 July and 4th September. That is time when MPs aren’t close together, fomenting their rage and reaching fever pitch over crunch votes.
Instead, Ministers will try (and occasionally fail) to keep their negotiations quiet and behind closed doors. The civil service will tick along. And Theresa May will cling on.
2. Brexiteer rage may have peaked for now
After the Chequers honeymoon, it all started falling apart: David Davis resigned. Boris Johnson resigned. Others followed. But then came an uncomfortable sort of calm.
The government won its key votes (helped by disgraceful tactics), including rejecting plans for the UK to join a customs union if it failed to agree a free-trade deal with the EU. That has pacified the brash Brexiteers, for now. And on the Tories’ defeated pro-EU side…
3. Tories are scared
Look at the last month of polls (newest first):
Labour are moving ahead. Which the Conservatives know – and why whips are deploying the ‘nuclear threat’…
4. Theresa May is threatening one
The fact that the PM used threats of a General Election last week to whip Tories into line should say all you need about the chances of a snap election.
Why would the Conservatives want a general election now? There is too much at stake – and a ‘no confidence’ vote in the PM would necessarily require Tories joining the Labour side in booting Theresa May out.
With the Labour party on the up, even the wettest of Tories may want to avoid putting a socialist Eurosceptic, Jeremy Corbyn, into Number 10 right now.
Labour’s positioning on a General Election is savvy – it makes the Tories look more unstable by talking up the prospect of a snap vote, and conversely, makes Labour look more prepared as a ‘party of government’.
The wheels may yet fall off the wagon, but for the next couple of months, things are looking typically weak – but stable.
Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter.
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