So this lady was for U-turning
Great. Another referendum… sorry, general election. Like many, I’m pretty much with Brenda from Bristol on the surprise announcement. “You’re joking! Not another one,” she proclaimed in a clip that subsequently went viral. “Oh for God’s sake, I can’t stand this.”
I say pretty much because she also said “there’s too much politics going on at the moment” and while I’m sure plenty of people up and down the country agree, I don’t: there’s not enough politics in my view.
This wasn’t a carefully considered political move at all. May admits she only came to the decision “recently and reluctantly”.
Indeed, it seems to be as much a knee-jerk reaction to a poll putting the Conservatives 21 points ahead of Labour as motivated by the knowledge that the government would be up against the clock come the business end of the Brexit negotiations if the next general election were to take place in 2020.
Where is the sense in making an embarrassing U-turn (having previously said she wouldn’t call a general election) and gambling so much on a poll? A poll!
Has May’s faith not even been a tiny bit dented by those held ahead of the 2015 general election, the Brexit vote and election of Donald Trump as US president?
Did she not learn anything from David Cameron’s complete misreading of the electorate before the referendum? Has she not twigged that the bulk of the country is not on the same page when it comes to Brexit as anyone in government and that many are more interested in getting people out of the UK than getting the UK out of Europe?
There is an assumption that not only will May get her mandate, allowing her to negotiate Brexit on her own terms, she will also increase her majority, meaning opposition to Brexit is diminished if not neutralised. Investors will also be hoping that it means we will now be heading for a relatively soft Brexit.
I hope that is what happens and my misgivings are misplaced, but May will need to adopt her best poker face, because this is high-stakes stuff and I wouldn’t trust polls or bank on the electorate being anything other than unpredictable, especially if they don’t hear what they want regarding Brexit.
One game in town
Make no mistake: however hard people try to make this election about other issues, for instance housing, there is only one game in town - and there will be plenty of people unhappy about the lack of action on immigration.
Will more vote UKIP this time? What of the reluctant Tories who voted ‘remain’ in last year’s referendum? Will they vote Lib Dem? As for gaining at the expense of Labour, there aren’t actually many marginal Labour seats left. In short, a landslide victory might not be as nailed on as it looks.
In the meantime, we should brace ourselves for yet more short-term uncertainty as investors slam the brakes on - some of them anyway. The Chinese continue to make the most of the ongoing political uncertainty in the wake of the Brexit vote, which it should also be noted has barely moved the dial in terms of debt pricing, as demonstrated by Hammerson’s new revolver.
Let’s also hope that greater clarity does lie ahead and that the polls are right for once.