Early Parliamentary General Election

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:26 pm on 19th April 2017.

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Photo of Angus Robertson Angus Robertson Deputy Leader, Scottish National Party, Shadow SNP Westminster Group Leader 1:26 pm, 19th April 2017

The Prime Minister says that she wants unity and an end to division; she intends to achieve that by crushing opposition, with political opponents described as “saboteurs”. I invited her earlier to distance herself from that, but she was not prepared to do so. This is not a vision or an understanding of mainstream democracy that I share with the Prime Minister.

For months we have heard from the Prime Minister that

“now is not the time” for the public to vote, that “no one wants it”, and that it is important to

“get on with the day job”.

We have been told that the Prime Minister needs to concentrate all her time on the Brexit negotiations and that nothing should get in the way. In the past 24 hours, however, we have learned that that was all empty rhetoric.

There are two key reasons why there is going to be an early general election. The first is total political expediency—it is about the woeful, unelectable state of the Labour party, and not wanting to repeat the political error that Gordon Brown made. The Prime Minister wants to receive her own electoral mandate and to crush political opposition in England. The second reason for holding an early general election is that it has finally dawned on the UK Government that the Brexit negotiations are going to be very difficult and the realities of the hard Brexit that the Prime Minister is pursuing have not yet fully dawned on the public. As one commentator wrote today:

“The EU is not going to roll over and give the UK free and ‘frictionless’
access to the internal market. The Prime Minister is cutting and running;
getting a vote in before the reality of hard Brexit hits home”.

The Prime Minister might think she can get her way with all this against the Labour party in England, but she will not get away with it in Scotland.