In a move that set Twitter feeds alight, Theresa May announced today that a snap general election will take place on June 8. Campaigning will begin as soon as the decision has been ratified by parliament tomorrow, giving parties less than two months to plan and execute their general election campaigns.
The announcement comes just after the Easter Bank Holiday, and marks the beginning of what will be an intense period of campaigning for MPs and political leaders. Jeremy Corbyn has said that he, as the Leader of the Labour Party, is ready to start “straight away”.
Speaking about her decision, May said that the snap election is the “only way to guarantee certainty and security for the years ahead”, as a strategy to end the political “game playing” that has seen the SNP vying for a second Scottish referendum and Labour threatening to vote against the final Brexit agreement. Yet, as Laura Kuenssberg points out, the results of this strategy are far from certain. Opinion polls indicating a Tory majority suggest that an early general election might end the day-to-day problems presented by a small Conservative majority.
Election campaigns, however, are unpredictable beasts. Comments on the BBC’s coverage of the announcement indicated that many see this decision as an act of political cunning to disarm the opposition while crediting the legitimacy of Conservative decisions made in the Brexit agreements. Some have framed this positively, with one user writing: “Genius by May. Destroys Corbyn and weakens Sturgeon in one swipe. We need [these] clever tactics when negotiating with the EU”. Others, however, have approached it in a different light, describing the snap election as a “diabolical plot to satisfy personal and party ambitions”.
The Cambridge Student spoke to Cambridge’s MP, Daniel Zeichner, who suggested that May’s decision is “proof that [she] cannot be trusted to keep her word, especially as we embark on the toughest set of negotiations in a generation. She has once again put the interests of the Conservative Party over those of the country”.
He added that he will be “fighting tooth and nail to ensure we have a Labour Government in June”.
While Cambridge has long been a battleground between Liberal Democrats and Labour, Zeichner’s pro-European stance in a pro-remain town might set him in good stead for the forthcoming vote. He has defied his party whip to vote against the Brexit bill, and in an email sent after the EU referendum result, spoke of his pride of being both British and European.
Yet Zeichner also has reason to be concerned. Julian Huppert, the former Liberal Democrat MP for Cambridge, took to Twitter today to thank the “huge number of people” who have already contacted Huppert to help in the forthcoming election. When asked for comment by TCS, the Cambridge Liberal Democrats pointed out that the party has already seen 4000 new members join in a six-hour period. It thus stands that as with all things in the current political climate, uncertainty, both in Cambridge and the UK at large, prevails.