Could Theresa May be writing her final chapter? How long will this parliament last?
According to the New Statesman, the Sun has reported that anti-May MPs almost have the 48 backers to lead to a leadership contest. Triggering a contest by no means ends May’s premiership, in fact it could even bolster it if handled effectively. But if were one to take place, the opportunity for some of the cabinet’s big beasts like Boris Johnson and Amber Rudd to run could be took good to pass up.
The problem for those opposed to May is Brexit. Triggering a contest before the UK enters the transition period could throw the government into chaos and would undoubtedly disrupt Brexit negotiations. The outcome could even lead to a change in Brexit direction, which might be too risky for some MPs to push for.
With this in mind, Theresa May is probably safe until March 2019. Even if her post-Brexit deal is viewed as a reasonable success, there will likely be calls for a change in leadership, especially if Labour enjoys success at local elections. I’d put my money on a leadership contest in 2019, possibly after the local elections. That would result in a new prime minister by September 2019.
Had Theresa May secured a large majority last year, she could have reigned until the late 2020s, but last June ended her political career. She has only delayed her departure date.
As for the date of the next election, I have long speculated that there would be an early election, possibly in 2019 or 2020, but a number of events would have to happen for that to occur. The Conservatives would have to lose enough seats via by-elections and defections for them and the DUP to lose their majority. This could of course happen due to unforeseen circumstances, but it seems like the Conservatives will do anything to stay in power long enough to keep out Jeremy Corbyn.
Furthermore, Labour probably do not want a really early election. Without a clear Brexit stance and with no obvious vision for a post-Brexit world, their best strategy is to let the Conservatives deliver a deal that cannot satisfy everyone. Only once the bricks of the final post-transitional arrangement fall into place will Labour want to enter government.
Of course, this is largely speculation, but it seems as though Theresa May is on her way out and MPs are in for a full five-year term.
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