One of the few traditional Conservatives to have served on the Tory front bench under Cameron, Paterson was Secretary of State for Northern Ireland before being promoted to the more high profile role of Secretary of State for Defra.

Candidate of the day

Owen Paterson

One day to go and Sir John Major has weighed in. “Labour divides to rule. To win votes they will turn rich against poor; north against south; worker against boss." We hope we don't wake up with them on Friday.

Hero of the day

Sir John Major

Another awful Labour woman. The fact Ed Miliband’s carved his pledges in stone doesn't mean he might not break them, campaign chief Lucy Powell has said.

Villain of the day

Lucy Powell

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THE REAL CONSERVATIVE MANIFESTO

Back marriage. Restore grammar schools. Leave the EU.

Cerberus: May 2018 is a fair bet for an early election

We live in interesting times – which might just be the best reason why Theresa May will have to call an election before the allotted date of  May, 2020.

The Prime Minister faces the most daunting in-tray of any leader in modern times. First, within two years, she has to negotiate successfully Britain’s exit from the EU - a project fraught with difficulty and complexity and one that will be the target of wrecking tactics at home and abroad.

Second, she has to balance the nation’s books, still a tall order with the deficit running at £50 billion a year and one not helped by the Tory backbench rebellion that swiftly put paid to Chancellor Philip Hammond’s politically inept proposal to raise National Insurance contributions for the self-employed. That £2 billion lost will have to come from somewhere.

Then there are her plans to revive grammar schools – one measure guaranteed to unite the disorganised rabble that passes for the Parliamentary Labour Party and one that will, as former Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said yesterday, also act as a rallying point for disgruntled and dispossessed Cameroon Conservatives of a liberal, progressive persuasion.

On top of that, she will face persistent sniping from the sanctimonious Nicola Sturgeon, who appears to have given up on attempting to govern Scotland (where her record is dreadful) and has instead appointed herself Grievance-Monger in Chief. Scotland won’t get an independence referendum this side of a 2020 general election, but that won’t stop Sturgeon trying to shore up her position and distract from her failings by harping on about it.

Finally, there is the Great Repeal Bill, intended to end our membership of the EU and enshrine into UK law (temporarily) its many rules and regulations before they are ultimately filleted by future administrations. This Bill and others needed because of our exit, covering areas such as immigration, farming and fishing, are bound to become the focus of Remainer resistance. Abroad is hardly any easier with a maverick in the White House and revanchist Putin still dreaming of restoring his country’s supposed former ‘glories'.

Article 50 may have been triggered with a huge majority in the Commons and eventually the Lords, but there is no sign that the Remainers have abandoned ship. Yesterday, we had Tony Blair on the Marr Show speaking of the need to revive centre ground politics and commit Labour to opposing Brexit if negotiations go badly and the public turns against it. That is most unlikely given the national mood and the way the people want Mrs May to get on with saying goodbye to Brussels, but it could happen.

And we should not overlook the ambitions of George ’Six Jobs’ Osborne, who clearly believes that if he can retain a parliamentary powerbase while taking over the editor’s chair at the Evening Standard, he can yet emerge as leader of the metropolitan Tory faction opposed to Mrs May’s Home Counties Conservatism.

Factor in the parliamentary arithmetic (May has an effective majority of just 17 in the Commons and no majority in the Lords) and one can begin to see the case for going to the country and winning a decisive victory – an attractive bet with the hapless Corbyn at the helm and with Labour MPs in despair over their prospects. The Fixed Term Parliaments Act is less of an obstacle than many suppose, mainly because the Labour leadership could hardly vote against an early election.

Yet, despite the jungle drums in the Sunday papers suggesting that Tory HQ is toying with an election as early as May this year, the odds are firmly against any precipitate move. The Prime Minister is hardly impetuous and she and her aides have repeatedly ruled out any early dash to the polls. Instead, they have emphasised the importance of getting on with the job and governing and delivering the verdict of the referendum. May’s reputation rests on her unflashy, diligent approach and her reluctance to “play political games” - Ms Sturgeon please note.

So no election this year. The Government will soldier on, wrestling with its bulging in-tray and trying to make headway over Brexit. But next year could be a different story. If the Great Repeal Bill is mauled by Parliament, if the EU once it has gone through the French and German elections, cuts up really rough, if attempts at domestic reform (such as grammars) and fiscal consolidation are derailed, the pressure on Mrs May to name the day could become unstoppable.

Much will depend on how the Great Repeal Bill fares in Parliament when it is debated and voted upon in the second half of this year. But a general election in May 2018 does not look out of the question.

(Image: Bob Bob)

Cerberus

  • Bik Byro

    My instinct tells me that the electorate would punish a party seen as calling an election for political purposes. In any case, why not get the boundary reviews out of the way first.

    • Shadow Warrior

      Quite. To go to the country before the boundary reviews have been implemented – unless forced to – would be madness.

      • TheRightToArmBears

        It would not be surprising given every party likes the status quo regarding their safe seat boundaries.
        It could have been enacted yonks ago but somehow increased pay for MPs took up Parliamentary time.

    • Mike Fowle

      Yes, quite agree. People do not generally like being taken for granted. As regards the deficit, how about spending less and doing less?

      • Bik Byro

        As regards the deficit, better to wait until labour have less than 150 seats in parliament after 2020.

      • TheRightToArmBears

        Politicians who live and breath spending taxpayers’ money will call you a fasc*st and thereby ra*ist Na*i for airing that heresy.

        • TheRightToArmBears

          TCW is following the footsteps of Facebook and Guido in allowing their website to auto-censor words in which I have had to insert * to get accepted.
          What have I written that has triggered our now sensitive ladies?
          Are they now in their safe space catching their breath and wondering whether they should bar me from their alleged domain of free speech?

          • David davis

            You spend too much time stating the truth. That is always a bad plan.

        • Mike Fowle

          Sorry, I’m busy sending some small children up chimneys and packing some old biddies off to the workhouse.

  • Otto von Bismarck

    I doubt it. You’d have to be insane to call an election midway through the Article 50 process. Mrs May either has to call one before we trigger Article 50 (quite likely in my view, I think the March deadline will be pushed back to make way for a 2017 Summer election) or after the process has finished.

    • Malcolm

      Now the date for triggering Article 50 has been announced as next Wednesday there is no going back. If it doesn’t happen then there will be Hell to pay and Mrs May knows it. I can see the attraction for an early election to (hopefully) increase her majority before the final Brexit negotiations are concluded and any vote on them, but knowing how cautious she famously is I can’t see it happening before the boundary reviews changes kick in.

      • John C

        For ‘cautious’ read ‘useless spineless slug’

  • My wife told me last night that the Evening Standard is now a ‘free sheet’. If so, it is difficult to see anyone using it as a power base.

    • Colkitto03

      Yes, on the occasions I get the train back from working in London I pick one up just to do the crossword. I have never actually read it.

    • Where are Blair’s Expenses

      The Standard is a free sheet and normally takes the average commuter 5 minutes to read it.
      All the news appears to be syndicated and all the sport news cut and pasted from football and rugby club websites
      The Standard should really be classed as a comic.

      • John C

        Except that comics are usually funny.
        It is merely cageliner

    • RobertRetyred

      “… Evening Standard is now a ‘free sheet’.”

      That much!

  • Mojo

    Going for an early election is, in my view, asking for trouble. Those who voted for Brexit knew what they were voting for and are itching to get on with it. It is the Remainers and Ms Sturgeon who are pushing because it will play into their hands. It doesn’t matter how many points the Tories are leading by because most people outside London and Scotland will not bother to vote if they believe their Referendum vote is being disregarded. And many will see an early election as a second rate referendum to please the 48% of sore losers.

    Mrs May has her mandate. Whatever Wee Krankie so rudely and unprofessionally keeps spouting, the Conservatives Won the 2015 election on the promise of a referendum as well as the promise to abide by the outcome. Mrs May was not elected by the grassroots members that is true. But that was not her fault. It was down to the London Remainers destroying the only other candidate in the misguided belief they could control ‘their’ preferred candidate. To her credit Mrs May has now blown their arrogant plans apart and stood by the outcome of a democratically won vote.

    If she holds her nerve and gets on with doing the job she is expected to do, I suspect that Scotland will turn against the SNP, the Remoaners will slowly only be listened to in London and the University towns and Brussels for all its bluster, will be guided by business, banks and in the end USA. Come the 2020 elections most Remoaners MPs in Leave constituencies will lose their seats and she can then decide whether or not it would be helpful to our relationship with Scotland to give them a second Referendum. The only true fly in the ointment is Sinn Fein. I would not trust them and their new leader seems of the ilk, unfortunately, of Wee Krankie. An embarrassment to the UK. But the underlying dislike of Westminster by Eire and NI just may open up old wounds whilst all eyes are being distracted by Scotland.

    • TheRightToArmBears

      May is conniving with Brussels to kid us that leaving the EU is difficult, which it is not. If she stopped the money for Brussels for a month or two she would have their undivided attention with the unusual aroma of reality in their nostrils.
      The euro would be teetering on the edge of free-fall and German, French and Italian banks would be clamouring for Merkel to agree to anything to stop them going over the edge. They’d do it to us and have threatened us with similar dire consequences. Why should we play their game for them?
      But May is a remainer and she will continue to write those mega-cheques which obviously she likes doing.

      • John C

        Yes. She is either a moron with no backbone, or yet another traitor.

        • RobertRetyred

          Or waiting for invoking Article 50: here’s hoping.

    • RobertRetyred

      Orkney and Shetland might ‘leave’ Scotland and become part of the UK, in a similar way to the Isle of Man. That would stuff the Northern Woman proper! 🙂

  • TheRightToArmBears

    ‘Abroad is hardly any easier with a maverick in the White House and revanchist Putin still dreaming of restoring his country’s supposed former ‘glories’.’

    This is straight from the BBC handbook. A maverick in the White House – may we have chapter and verse for the wildcat policies coming from the White House?

    A revanchist Putin? Again a slur to attribute blame for warfare engineered by Merkel supported by Obama/Clinton to de-stabilise a legally-elected government in the Ukraine in order to justify Merkel need for the EU army she needs to threaten by military force any country daring to think of leaving the corpse that is housed in Brussels.

    Putin was forced to act to secure his naval base in the Crimea. If he had not done so every red-blooded Russian would have been at his throat. He responded to what his countrymen wanted, just as Trump is doing what his countrymen voted for.

    Reading the above has made me realise that the BBC’s tentacles stretch further and deeper than I thought.

    • John C

      Yes, indeed. To call him a ‘maverick’ is infantile dr!vel of the most pathetic kind.

  • AlfTupperDarlin

    If there is to be an early general election it will be the election expenses scandal which triggers it. If there have to be 11 by-elections anyway then why not go the whole hog?

    • TheRightToArmBears

      Number Ten has already instructed Shami to conduct a whitewash investigation into the election expenses scandal.
      Nothing to worry the public here. Please move along.

      • John C

        But has Warsi resigned over this?

  • photon

    “The Fixed Term Parliaments Act is less of an obstacle than many suppose,
    mainly because the Labour leadership could hardly vote against an early
    election.”
    But the FTPA says
    If the House of Commons, with the support of two-thirds of its total
    membership (including vacant seats), resolves “That there shall be an
    early parliamentary general election”. 650×2/3 = 433

    The Labour Party does not have to vote against an early election. It simply has to abstain – not vote for it – on the grounds that the FTPA was designed to prevent Prime Ministers playing political games with the election date, and the Labour Party cannot support such tactics. “Now is not the time”

    • Lee Moore

      An early election can also be called on a simple majority vote of no confidence.

  • Nockian

    There won’t be any ‘deal’ with the EU until the 12th hour. I don’t think Ms May is unduly worried about grammar schools and The Sturgeon doesn’t really want a referendum, otherwise she would have called for it more vocally-she knows she couldn’t win at present, so will bide her time until after the EU deal is announced at least. With Labour in disarray there is no rush to an election. My guess is she will go the full term.

  • John C

    “That £2 billion lost will have to come from somewhere” – easy. Stop the abomination called ‘foreign aid’, and then stop immediately the abomination called paying protection money to the corrupt EU.

  • John C

    “Then there are her plans to revive grammar schools … a rallying point for
    disgruntled and dispossessed Cameroon Conservatives of a liberal,
    progressive persuasion” –
    what utter dr!vel. They are neither liberal nor progressive. They are
    reactionary sc!m who want to keep the yobs in their proper place.

  • John C

    “with a maverick in the White House” – utterly cret!nous dr!vel.