British General Election
Just after Easter, on Tuesday April 18, Theresa May called a press conference, outside Downing Street. The Prime minister announced, she would ask The House of Commons, to approve her plan, to hold a General Election on June 8th. The last Government, had brought in legislation, to enshrine fixed term Parliaments, of five years, into law. Since the last General Election was in 2015, Mrs May was asking, for the approval, of at least two thirds of MP’s, to call one early, the only way, she would be able to do so. The last Conservative Government, won a working majority of 12 seats, enough to govern independently, without the need of support, from any other political party; a small number, compared to other victories in the past, but enough to pass manifesto promises.
So what exactly were the reasons, the Prime minister called the Election, when she did; what had changed? Brexit was the official reason behind, Mrs May’s call for an early vote:
‘The country is coming together but Westminster is not.’ she claimed, speaking outside her official residence. “Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit”. She continued.
Is there more to this, than at first meets the eye; what are the real motives, behind Theresa May’s election call? It is true to say, that Brexit, is the underlying factor, behind this dissolution of Parliament. Article 50, the mechanism used for withdrawal from the European Union, was triggered in March of this year. The time scale for withdrawal is estimated at two years, which would bring us up to 2019, only a few months away from the official date, of the scheduled next election. At the most crucial stage, the winding up of negotiations with the EU, the UK, would be thrown into election mode. This could influence any deals done, as part of the process, while politicians and political parties, make a play for power. The finalisation of any delicate dialogue, between two opposing groups, is the hardest, the last leg, where any faults are ironed out. The distraction of a General Election at this time, could have been catastrophic.
You have to remember, we are deciding on everyone’s future, the risks involved, in diverting attention, away from the most important decisions of a life time, is too much to comprehend. For this reason alone, the Prime minister was right, in calling for an election. A positive outcome for Britain, with the right settlement, guaranteeing a bright future for us and the EU, is dependent on focused intercession. An election, cementing whichever parties manifesto, to carry their policies forward, is in my view necessary. Presently Mrs May, remains an unelected Prime minister. If she, or whoever wins, does so resoundingly, it can only strengthen their hand.
The Labour Party and Liberal Democrats, have also been signalling, their intentions, to disrupt, any necessary legislation, with regards to Brexit, passing through Parliament. With a slim majority, the Conservative Government, may well have come up against some difficult challenges. At a time when all politicians, from whichever party, should be working together, for the good of the country, the spectre of disunity, was another factor, when deciding to go to the country and get that mandate needed, for robust, decisive Government at a time of National importance.
Finally the opinion polls; of course Theresa May has studied the political atmosphere. She is riding high in the polls, at the same time Labour is suffering from a lack of firm leadership and an inappropriate master at the helm, who has clung on to power, by the skin of his teeth. His ineffectual, weak and lackluster approach has left the Labour Party languishing, with low approval ratings, across the country. As an opportunist, Mrs May, would have been foolish, not to take advantage of her poll position. The general public, currently see her, as a firm, strong and secure pair of hands, when we need such a person. Theresa seems balanced and measured, at least where Brexit is concerned.
As an Expat, I have already voted in the Election, I have done so, in every vote, local, national and European, since I was able to put a cross, on the ballot paper. People fought for the right to express their opinion; we should never sit idle, without a voice, letting others decide the direction, we should take. Although living in Europe now, I believe it is more important to vote than ever. For the first time in a generation, a General Election in the UK, will ultimately, directly and absolutely affect our status as Expats. My only concern is for my future, living in Spain, as selfish as that may seem and I voted for the party, I believe, will get the best deal for me.
As one would expect, there has been a lot of chatter, from my neighbours, with regards to the up coming election; for those of us who live here, it is yet another vote, to determine our destiny. The common train of thought is, ‘how forgotten we are, as voters.’ No one represents us, in the same way an MP, represents his constituency. Decisions are being made in Westminster, that will influence all our lives, living on the continent and we, as individuals, have very little say in that process.
Expats are pretty conservative as a rule; most have still got firm links with the UK, through family and friends; many return on a regular basis. We celebrate the holidays Britain celebrates and express our Britishness, far more vocally than those back home. In many ways, as I discovered when I moved here, small enclaves like Gran Alacant, offer a way of life, long since gone in the UK. Expats respect their roots and want to see the best for their country. Many Expats voted for Brexit, because of their belief in self determination, which I believe, to be a very British trait. The majority of my neighbours will vote in this General Election, probably a higher percentage, than those who actually live in the UK, yet we are heard least; that is a terrible indictment, on how we are treated as individuals, just because we decided to move abroad.
In a weeks time, Britain will have decided on a new Government, possibly a different direction, most certainly a landmark vote, that will ultimately decide our future living in Spain. Of course there are important issues back home, that we play no part in, but our mark on the ballot paper, counts equally, more now than ever. If you haven’t voted, can’t be bothered or believe it doesn’t matter or relate to you, then you can’t complain, if circumstances don’t go your way. I come from a very politically aware family; my father stood for election many times, in the small market town, where I grew up and although we didn’t always see eye to eye, we both have the same political blood running through our veins; believing everyone who can vote, should. Look around the World, look at those who have no voice. We, unlike them, have opportunities to change what we don’t approve of; our voice matters. The people spoke up during the EU referendum and they changed Britain’s fate; elections do matter, can change a countries direction fundamentally, crown a new Prime minister and above all, give power to a party, that will use it to change lives; lives will be changed after June 8!