Theresa May's gamble and why it failed

British Prime Minister Theresa May waiting for the election results at her constituency in Maidenhead Photograph:( Reuters )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jun 09, 2017, 04.48 AM (IST)

By Ankit Saproo

British PM Theresa May's decision to call for early snap elections in April was guided mainly by polls which pointed to a huge victory. However, as early results poured in it clearly revealed Britain was a different country two months ago.

Her political instinct was clearly out of sync with reality. A majority would have given her an entire five-year term to negotiate the Brexit process on her own terms. 

In her speech announcing the early elections, May had said, "It was with reluctance that I decided the country needs this election, but it is with strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond."

A confident May even suggested to the British people that they should vote for the Conservative party if they want Brexit to be a success. Unfortunately, the election results out today prove her political instincts were clearly out of sync with reality.

What led to the failure?

Just like her predecessor ex-prime minister David Cameron, May was against Brexit but remained silent during the entire campaign leading up to the referendum on June 23, 2016.

David Cameron resigned as the Prime Minister after Britain voted in favour of Brexit. Theresa May, who was home secretary in the Cameron government, took over as the next Prime Minister and quickly became a votary of Brexit saying that it is what the people wanted. In the end, it was her 'Great Switch' which was rejected by the British people. 

On March 29, 2016, she won a major victory in the UK Parliament when the European Union Bill was passed by a huge majority with the support of the Labour party. The Scottish National Party and the Liberal Democrats had opposed the bill.

With the bipartisan support for the bill to initiate the process of UK's exit, Theresa May activated Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. This was a major victory for the Theresa May-led government and gave her the confidence to go for what has been described as "Hard Brexit".

In a letter to the European Council President Donald Tusk, Theresa May said that the Brexit referendum "was a vote to restore, as we see it, our national self-determination".

Donald Tusk urged Theresa May not to let "emotions" get in the way of the negotiating process as it would lead to talks collapsing even before they start.

The appeal from the European Council President came after Theresa May accused Brussels of meddling in the election process and undermining British stance on the terms of negotiations governing Brexit. With her allegedly hard position on Brexit negotiations, she alienated most of UK's allies in the European Union. 

What next?

With the Conservative party losing the majority in the House of Commons Theresa May is clearly handicapped, almost a lame duck when she leads the Brexit talks.

In fact, analysts are already hinting at the possibility of a new referendum on Brexit. The House is clearly divided after this historic verdict. Is this the beginning of the end of Brexit or end of a new beginning?    


Story highlights

Theresa May called for early elections confident of winning the polls by a huge margin ||The wisdom behind the decision was to give Theresa May a strong footing to negotiate the Brexit process ||The results seem to have dented her confidence as the Conservatives are set to lose their majority

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