April 18, 2017
Prime Minister Theresa May has announced that she wants to hold the next UK general election on 8th June. This would be well ahead of the next scheduled poll in 2020 and also goes against her previously expressed preference to adhere to the current timetable.
Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act introduced in 2011, elections are supposed to be held every five years. However, May could get around this by securing the support of two-thirds of parliament (434 votes) and Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the main opposition Labour Party, has already signalled that he would not stand in the way.
The opinion polls currently put the ruling Conservatives around 20 percentage points ahead of Labour and, even if only broadly accurate, would point to a potential landslide victory. So, for the government, to go to the country now makes a lot of sense. Moreover, for the Prime Minster herself, a convincing win would also significantly strengthen her position within the Conservative Party at a time when internal divisions over Brexit need to be handled particularly carefully.
The pound initially wobbled slightly on the news but will now revert to watching the opinion polls just as it did in the run-up to the Brexit vote last year. The House of Commons will vote on the PM's proposal tomorrow.