Assuming, as seems likely, that Theresa May is successful tomorrow in securing the two-thirds majority for a June Election, then there are just 51 days before the next General Election.
Mrs May is well known for her caution and integrity. Yet Number 10 repeatedly ruled out an early election - so today’s move is all the gutsier for the risk that it looks opportunistic.
This morning’s announcement was couched in terms of wanting a stronger mandate for both the PM’s domestic challenges (such as IndyRef2 and grammar schools) as well as Brexit negotiations.
But the PM’s calculation also relied on the continuing opinion poll movement in her favour, culminating this weekend in a 21-point ComRes lead – the largest for any party in government since Michael Foot led Labour.
What is clear from the polling is that timing is everything. The Tories have benefited from UKIP’s steady retreat – one-third (31%) of whose voters now intend voting Conservative, while in many parts of the country Paul Nuttall’s troops put more pressure on Labour than the Conservatives.
While the impact is felt less with every month that ticks by, the Tories have also benefited from the Lib Dem woes. But whether they can sustain that advantage, especially in parts of the country which voted both Conservative AND Remain, is questionable.
As well as giving Theresa May the majority she needs to govern effectively, this election looks set to deliver Labour backbenchers the result they want too – the end of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership – which, in turn, makes what will now be a 2022 General Election harder to call.
In the face of historically remarkable opinion poll leads, waiting until 2020 has proved just too tempting. If a week is a long time in politics, then the next seven weeks will feel like a lifetime.
|2015 General Election %||April 2017 ComRes poll %||VAR|