General election called

Theresa May has called a snap general election.

Speaking on the steps of 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister announced that she intends for the election to be held on the 8th June.

Citing her government’s small majority, and her fears the opposition is set to frustrate her Brexit plans, May announced that tomorrow she will be putting a motion before the House of Commons to call a general election.

“The country is coming together but Westminster is not.” she said.

“I have concluded the only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead is to hold this election.”

The process is however not straight forward. The traditional prerogative power of the Prime Minister to dissolve Parliament was withdrawn under the Fixed Term Parliament Act 2011. Under the terms of the act, a piece of legislation enacted at the request of the Liberal Democrats in the coalition years, Parliamentary consent is required to call a general election.

I have concluded the only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead is to hold this election.

This means Theresa May either has to secure a two-thirds majority of MPs, pass a motion of no confidence in her own government, or repeal the legislation before calling an election. In her statement, she gave her preference for the first option. With Labour and the Liberal Democrats pledging to vote with the government, this approach will undoubtedly succeed.

Throwing down the gauntlet to her opponents, Mrs May called on the opposition to support the motion. She argued that now was the moment for the opposition to put their proposals to the British people and let them decide Brexit’s course.

“We need a general election and we need one now. We have at this moment a one off chance to get this done.” she said.

The calling of a general election is a U-turn for the Prime Minister, who previously had played down suggestions there should be an early general election. The argument had been that fighting election campaigns in the midst of Brexit negotiations would be an unwelcome and destabilising distraction. But, with the potential for discontent on her back benches and a small parliamentary majority, it is evident the Prime Minister has decided it is worth the risk.

Within Oxford’s political scene, the decision has received varied reactions

Within Oxford’s political scene, the decision has received varied reactions. Speaking to the Oxford Student, Andrew Smith, Labour MP for Oxford East said:

“This is Theresa May and the Tory Party thinking they can seize a moment of apparent party advantage, but it is the chance instead for people to show they have had enough of cuts to the NHS, social care and schools, and to vote for a better future with Labour, safeguarding jobs, services and our environment, steering clear of the dangers of a hard  Brexit whilst respecting the referendum verdict.”

“Oxford Labour will campaign hard to stand up for our communities.”

OULC, again in a statement to the Oxford’s Student, expressed similar sentiments. Tom Zagoria, one of the club’s two co-chairs, said:

“We welcome the opportunity to challenge an unelected May government which has so markedly failed to create a country which works for everyone”.

“In Oxford and in marginal seats OULC will be mobilising students to fight for social justice, an inclusive and open society, and a better future for workers and marginalised people”.

In a press release, Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for the South East, took an alternative view; making it clear that his party sees the election as a referendum on Brexit as a whole.

“Let’s be clear, this election will be a referendum on Brexit and the best opportunity we have of stopping the Britain committing an act of great self-harm. As Greens, we will be campaigning on a proudly, loudly pro-European platform.” He said.

Let’s be clear, this election will be a referendum on Brexit

On the other hand, William Rees-Mogg, President of OUCA, was keen to stress his society’s support for the government.

“OUCA welcomes this news, we look forward to helping Theresa May achieve a substantial democratic mandate, both in Oxfordshire and across the country”. He said.

Nicola Blackwood, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, similarly stressed the opportunity the election provides for the Conservatives. In her statement to the Oxford Student she said:

“As we go in to Brexit negotiations we need certainty and security for the country with a strong and stable Government, so an election now will help to provide this”.

Before making clear her pitch to the constituency she represents:

“I have demonstrated my commitment to fighting for Oxford West & Abingdon’s priorities over the past 7 years and I hope that residents will continue to trust me to deliver this”.

This is a breaking story. Updates will be made as new information emerges.