Almost two years have elapsed since Article 50 was triggered. At the time, Britain’s Conservative government knew it needed to negotiate the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU. Yet the country is just months away from leaving, and it is still debating the legitimacy of the vote.
Theresa May returned to the UK with a deal that pleases nobody. Remainers and Brexiteers are equally disappointed. MPs will vote on the final deal on the 12th of December and Theresa May will struggle to convince MPs that her deal is right for the country. After two years of negotiating, all Theresa May and her government have to show is a deal that does not address any of the core beliefs that prompted Brexiteers to vote to leave the EU. The Conservative party got the UK into the Brexit mess after David Cameron used a national referendum to heal a divide in the Conservative party. Rather than heal the party divide, the referendum ensured the division spread across the country. Britain does not need a second referendum, it needs a new government. Even if a general election puts the Conservatives back in power, at least they will have the stability and legitimacy of the backing of the British public.
Britain had a general election in 2017. Labour was unable to unseat the Conservative government then. There is no need for another general election now just because the Labour party does not like the way Brexit is being handled. At such a critical juncture, as Theresa May concludes Brexit negotiations with Brussels and prepares for a vote in Parliament over the final deal, a general election is out of the question and would harm national interests. Since the two largest parties are both split over Brexit, a General Election fought on Brexit might be decided on other issues, and could produce another Parliament that doesn’t have a majority for any particular version of Brexit. Under the Fixed Term parliament Act we can have an extra election either if two-thirds of MPs vote for it, or if the government loses a confidence vote and no-one else wins a confidence vote within two weeks. Neither condition has yet been met.
The Conservative government’s handling of Brexit has been a disaster. The people should now choose if they want a new government at the helm during further negotiations.
British representative democracy demands a general election every five years. There was a vote less than five years ago. There is no need for a general election now.