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UK General Election: Theresa May’s Call for Election on June 8 an Opportunistic Masterstroke

On June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, a historic result the likes of which has never been seen. On June 5, 1975 the UK voted overwhelmingly in favor of remaining in the EU (then called the European Community) and the thought of any member state actually leaving is a very recent phenomenon. Many point to the Great Recession of 2008-09 as the catalyst for the most recent wave of anti-EU sentiment but opposition to the EU has existed in the UK since it joined 45 years ago, tending to rear its head at times of economic struggle or uncertainty. The election of the arguably right-wing Donald Trump as President of the most powerful country on the planet certainly fueled the idea that a country can stand on its own and be successful.

In the UK House of Commons, until recently there has been virtually no opposition. The Labour Party has seen consistent infighting ever since the ascension of traditionalist Jeremy Corbyn to party leader; UKIP has done the one thing it set out to do and is likely to die a slow and quiet death in the coming years; the Liberal Democrats, Greens and other smaller parties have even less public support than UKIP. This is, therefore, the perfect time for Prime Minister Theresa May to call an election, as the only real outcome is that she has more seats – and therefore a greater Parliamentary majority – on June 9 than on June 8. This will allow her to further dominate the opposition and enjoy the ability to easily pass the laws and changes that she wants – her greater majority will reduce the impact that a small number of rebellious MPs will have. The strength of her opposition has increased somewhat by this announcement, with politicians coming out of the woodwork as they realize they have a shot at greater power, and there are whispers of coalition between the smaller parties to overthrow the larger. The smaller parties have lost a large chunk of support in recent years, and this is unlikely to be a major threat.

Not only this, but a greater majority and a confident election victory will prove to the EU nations that she has the country behind her – in her current state as an unelected Prime Minister who faced very little opposition on her journey upwards, some may ask how she can represent the views of a population who only voted for her predecessor – and this will considerably strengthen her negotiating position in the coming years. We can expect, therefore, greater currency stability and a stronger economic performance, which may in turn result in some companies – who are currently threatening to leave the UK post-Brexit – choosing to remain in the UK.

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