Theresa May has just announced that she’ll move a motion in the Commons tomorrow calling for a general election on 8 June. This is despite May and her team having repeatedly ruled out going to the country early.
Much of the May brand, and her appeal, is built on the idea that she is a grown-up who gets on with the job and doesn’t play political games. By going for an election, and especially when the Tories have a record poll lead over Labour, she endangers that.
May is clearly aware of this danger. In her statement outside Downing Street, May tried to pitch herself against Westminster. She said that while the country was coming together, Westminster was not.
May said that she had come to the conclusion that there should be an early election ‘reluctantly’ and that she thinks an early election will strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations and make it easier to get Brexit through parliament. She pitched herself as a strong leader against a weak Jeremy Corbyn who would lead a chaotic coalition propped up by the Liberal Democrats, who she accused of wanting to reopen the Brexit debate, and the SNP.
The question now is whether the voters accept May’s claim that she has come to the conclusion that there needs to be an early election ‘reluctantly’. Or, do they think that May is doing what she so often accuses others of: playing political games.