Theresa May has just announced a snap election for June 8th in the United Kingdom. This is pretty “snap” as snap elections go, not even giving a full two months to campaign.
This is clearly an attempt to solidify her mandate going in to Brexit talks, and head off calls for a confirming referendum on the massive constitutional change that the final Brexit deal will entail. (mainly because she fears that it throwing the issue back to the people will show a majority now wish to abort Brexit) Of course, any first year political science student will tell you that a second vote on the exact details of the deal, allowing a genuine backout for people who’ve changed their minds, would be basic constitutional practice. But it’s sink or Brexit now according to May, and she needs to leave no room in her false dichotomy for dissent, or, you know, other options.
It looks, however, like the only debate is going to be between Hard Brexit and Soft Brexit, which is a bit of a losing proposition for the two opposition parties that are buying into that dichotomy, the Liberal Democrats and Labour. The SNP, which also deserves to be called a major party in the UK, obviously supports remaining, but they would need both the Lib Dems and Labour to make such an arrangement work. There’s no indication they intend to do that, or even do a neat work-around where Scotland gets to take over as the UK’s successor state for EU membership.
It also seems like Corbyn is set to suffer a David Cunliffe-style unprecendented defeat as right-wing elements undermine his populist leadership. Who knows if another “chicken coup” will result where they again force a leadership contest and he refuses to resign, but it’s possible, and if he doesn’t manage to pull a coalition government. (which, for anyone reading from the UK, is a perfectly normal thing that can be stable, when actually compatible parties are involved. The Lib Dem/Conservative one was disastrous precisely because people vote Lib Dem because they hate Tories but can’t get a Labour majority in their district. We had a similar situation when New Zealand First and National got in bed with each other in our first coalition government. Not all centrists mix well with right-wingers)
While the conservatives are dramatically ahead in party-preference polling, there’s no good indication of what seats are likely to fall which way just yet, so nobody really knows how close things are, other than that the Conservatives are certainly going to be the largest single party. Whatever happens, it will determine the fate of the United Kingdom (and whether it remains united) for generations to come, and that burden will end up on the shoulders of the winner. Theresa May should be fervently hoping to be in opposition if she has any care for her political legacy.