A Gamble That Nearly Didn’t Pay Off
June 19, 2017
They say a week is a long time in politics, and it certainly was for incumbent United Kingdom Prime Minister Theresa May in the snap 2017 elections.
With Brexit hanging over the UK like a cloud, the second woman Prime Minister the UK has had called a snap election. The polls were showing that the Conservative Party had a huge lead over Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. Mrs May was originally against Brexit and wanted to shore up her majority in order to have a strengthened hand in her negotiations with the European Union as Britain filed for divorce.
Theresa May was banking on a huge turnout and approval for her party in government to lead the United Kingdom through the messy process now that the country has triggered Article 50 – formal notice that it is parting company with the EU.
She was expecting an overall majority, but Corbyn’s Labour Party went from being a disheveled lot to a real alternative government in the matter of weeks. In the end, the Conservatives got 317 seats, which was nine seats short of an overall majority and it also meant that the party had lost 13 seats when compared to the 2015 election result. It also meant that Corbyn’s Labour, which has never really recovered in popularity since Tony Blair stepped down, gained 30 seats. Not bad for a party that was given next to no chance of even competing in this election. The move meant that Britain was headed towards a hung parliament.
Mrs May had to rely on the support of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party, which won 10 seats in the election. This carried the Tories over the line with a very slim minority. Nonetheless, Queen Elizabeth II granted Mrs May permission to form a government. The experience shows that polls are not as trustworthy as they used to be, and putting all your political eggs in one basket can be a very dangerous thing.