Mrs May is not trustworthy. That much we know after yesterday when she U-turned on her promises to abide by her pledge not to call an election before the natural end of this parliament. Why we don’t know.
She said it was because of the opposition to her Brexit plans by the Labour, Lib Dems, the Scottish Nationalists and the House of Lords in parliament. But there are suggestions that the real reason is that she want to get the hard Brexiteers off her back so that she can deliver a soft Brexit.
Or, it could be, that she still has no vision of what Brexit means and is ruthlessly seeking power to do whatever she eventually decides she wants.
The Sun this morning accepts the story Mrs May put to the country in her surprise statement in Downing Street yesterday. She is aiming to kill off Labour, smash the rebel Tory remainers and “Bid for a clear Brexit mandate” although there is no indication of what that might mean.
But the alternative view is given by Nils Pratley, the Guardian’s business editor, who writes:
The real question is why sterling, which hit a six-month high, reacted so strongly to an early general election.
It was because investors calculated – counter-intuitively at first glance – that a bigger Tory majority in the Commons, if that’s what follows, will mean a softer form of Brexit. This argument was best expressed by Deutsche Bank’s analysts, who reckon the election is “a game-changer” for the pound and the Brexit negotiations. A bigger majority would set Theresa May free from the “unrealistic timetable” set by the eurosceptics in her party, they argue.
Much the same view is being expressed in Brussels according to Politico.eu.
The news website says:
“The chances for a good outcome of the Brexit negotiations have just gone up tremendously,” said a senior EU official, speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Instead of being at the mercy of the Brexiteers, May will now get a very, very strong mandate that will allow her to negotiate a reasonable deal with the EU,” the senior official said.
So is May trying to get the Conservative “hard Brexiteers” or the “remoaners” off her back? Or is it both she wants to be rid of so that she can do whatever she likes.
Yesterday’s announcement showed a ruthlessness in power. Any lingering belief in Bagehot’s concept of the role of prime minister as the “first among equals” was shot down yesterday. There is no evidence she consulted her colleagues before her announcement. It is a decision which reeks more Lord Hailsham’s “elective dictatorship”.
The words of Mrs May as she assumed the premiership, so full of promise, now seem as hollow as her assurances there would be no snap-election. How can we believe anything she says?
She can start by laying out a credible vision of a future for the UK and its relationship with Europe and explaining how she will seek to achieve it.