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Expert Reaction: May calls for UK general election

Posted on 18 April 2017

UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, has called for a snap general election on 8 June 2017. Professor Martin Smith, Head of the University of York’s Department of Politics, and Senior Lecturer in Politics, Dr Sofia Vasilopoulou react to the news:

Professor Smith said: “There is a danger that the Prime Minister's decision to call a snap election may appear both cynical and hypocritical.  She had indicated several times that she would not do so and in order to do so she has to shift away from fixed term elections introduced by her predecessor.  Clearly the reason for the election is that with Labour so weak in the polls, it is an opportunity for the Conservatives to win a landslide victory.  

“With a large Conservative majority, the government will be able to get through any Brexit deal.  Of course, there are going to be several difficulties for the Conservatives in the election campaign including the impact on Scotland and the potential for a second referendum, and a focus in the campaign on what sort of post-EU Britain the Conservatives want.”

Dr Vasilopoulou said: "This announcement, although not expected, isn’t a big surprise. 

“Strategically this is the only way for the PM to have a proper mandate for Brexit. It is also very likely that she gets a better majority in Parliament in light of the Brexit negotiations.

 “It is a good opportunity to put Conservative party divisions on ice in the interest of winning the general election. 

“These elections will be dominated by Brexit, and the Labour Party will have to finally clarify its position.” 

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