The case for in darker blue; responses against in lighter blue.
- An election will be needed if Article 50 is to pass through Parliament in good time (assuming the appeal against the High Court judgement fails) and to ease the passage of the Great Repeal Bill – in other words, to ensure that Brexit happens according to the Government’s timetable, and that Britain is out of the EU a year or so before the next general election.
- A brief Article 50 Bill can still make it through Parliament on time, even if the High Court judgement is upheld, and the repeal bill can still get through. The Government’s timetable can still be upheld. And in any event, should it really be sacrosanct?
- An election would reinforce the referendum verdict and would not compromise the coming negotiation.
- An election might not reinforce the referendum verdict. But even if it did, the Government would come under pressure to reveal more of its negotiating plan. This would be neither in the interest of Brexit nor Britain.
- An election would ensure that Conservative MPs keep discipline as they unite to fight the opposition.
- An election has the potential to divide the Party over the timing of Article 50 and the terms of the future Brexit deal.
- David Cameron’s experience post-2015 showed that the Government can’t get much of its programme through on this majority. Theresa May’s majority may be even smaller after the coming by-elections, and she will fare no better than he did.
- The electorate delivered the Party the current majority, and we must duly make the best of it. Voters hate unnecessary polls. And we may well not lose either of the coming by-elections.
- This is a golden chance to smash Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour and increase our majority. Putting a brief manifesto together would be relatively simple. And we may not get the boundary changes through the Commons, delivering that seat uplift that we are expecting.
- Elections are not always as straightforward as they seem beforehand. And it might not prove so simple to put a manifesto together that reconciles what Cameron wanted in 2015 and May wants now. But even if neither counter-objection is true, elections should not be called for such narrow partisan purposes. We likely to gain a bigger majority in 2020 if the boundary changes go through.
- Smashing Corbyn’s Labour would also be in the national interest because he would be replaced by a new and more moderate leader.
- He might not be replaced, even under these circumstances. And while his replacement might be new, he or she might not be moderate. In any event, to engineer an election to change Labour’s leader would be to abuse the electoral process.
- The Fixed-Term Parliament Act means that a snap election is impossible, or at least very difficult to achieve.
- The Fixed-Term Parliament Act does not means that a snap election is impossible, or all that difficult to achieve.
And there you go. There will be other arguments, or variants on the ones above, that I haven’t listed. My own view was that May should have called an election as soon as she became Prime Minister, but that having said she won’t, she now shouldn’t unless she has to: the core of her appeal, after all, is that she’s a woman of her word.
But if Parliament now either makes Brexit itself or an orderly negotiation impossible, she may have no alternative but to go the country. This one should be played by ear.
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Apologies to readers for the lateness of the site today. We have had a systems crash. This is the second within a fortnight: we have not had one previously during my period as Editor, or as far as I know before it. We are investigating.