MRS MAY’S GRAND GAMBIT
THE CALLING of a snap general election by Conservative PM Theresa May might unwittingly bring about the destruction of the United Kingdom. It might sound farfetched but stranger things have happened in politics of late.
Should she win the June 8 poll, her slender majority will no doubt increase, and her personal position – just like those PM’s before her who have entered No 10 via the back door as it were – will be rubber stamped. Major, Brown and Jim Callaghan in recent times were ushered into Downing St thanks to their counterparts leaving for a variety of reasons.
A little like Yes Prime Minister, one can only imagine what Sir Humphrey Appleby might have to say. With widening eyes: “Very courageous Prime Minister.”
All might be well; Mrs May might easily destroy Labour and others and romp home. Her bargaining position with be strengthened in Europe and, as a result, she could find herself in the position Mrs Thatcher found herself in in 1983 not long after the Falklands Crisis.
But if she loses, a new political genie could well and truly be let out of the bottle. Brexit – that already wearisome subject – will overshadow this election like no other. If fact all other manifesto pledges – didn’t we just hear those recently? – could become sideshows next to such.
The prospect of a Corbyn/Labour-Liberal coalition might loom; one which has the Remain campaigners at heart. And if such should occur, the SNP, wishing to remain in Europe also, might make it the perfect excuse to stage a second referendum on Scotland which they could win.
If Scotland exits from the UK, attention will then centre on Northern Ireland, which might be asked whether it prefers to remain part of the UK or Europe.
If Mrs May wins, Northern Ireland will, like the rest of the UK, be dragged out of the EU. But if Mr Corbyn wins, in whatever form, might a Brexit rethink or a second referendum on such occur?
If Mr Corbyn as PM finds his hands bound by the already in place rules on Brexit, he may have to honour the democratic will of the electorate on Brexit. But should Scotland leave the UK, might not NI also cast a glance at Eire and consider whether membership of the EU is preferable over membership of the UK? It’s perhaps beyond the Pale, but some might find themselves looking at a crumbling UK and taking this view. If the Welsh also take the option, the Celtic breakaway would be complete.
No-one predicted either David Cameron’s victory at the 2015 poll nor his resignation thanks to the aftershock of the Brexit referendum.
Could equally seismic shocks be on the way, brought about by a seemingly ‘uneccessary’election?
Imagine Jim Hacker sat at the Cabinet table and saying: “Well, Humphrey, I’ve decided to press ahead with an election in any case….”
One can picture the expression on the late Nigel Hawthorne’s face, even after all these years. Political histories tend to repeat down the decades.