The UK will elect a new Parliament today, but even before the vote takes place the loser seems certain: it is Theresa May.
She had a narrow but solid majority in the Commons and three more years to go, but she thought that through a snap election she might still better herself: a bigger majority, a longer term. But this is not going to happen.Just one month ago, her the Conservative Party’s lead over Labour was 24% – now it has melted down to just 5% or less. It even cannot be excluded that the election will result in the Tory’s losing their absolute majority.
Of course a victory for the Conservatives, albeit narrow, still seems the most likely outcome. But the Prime Minister’s decision to hold elections looks foolish in hindsight, and having failed to obtain what must have been her strategic goal, that is a stronger majority, the Prime Minister herself will be weakened.
This has also consequences for the upcoming Brexit negotiations. Mrs. May main argument for the election was that she needed to obtain a stronger mandate for the negotiations in order to negotiate forcefully and credibly. Yet precisely this, strengthening her, is what the electorate apparently does not intend to do. Could it be that the British do not really care so much about the negotiations? Perhaps they have not yet realized what Brexit will mean for their country? Domestic issues seem to have made the greater impact in these elections, but Brexit still is and remains the biggest challange for any future UK government. Being represented by a weakened and foolish-looking PM will do no service to Britain.