Tory peer explains why Theresa May won’t be calling a snap general election
Lord Finkestein had top Number 10 operatives listening carefully…
Downing Street has moved quickly to quash suggestions that Theresa May should call an election before 2020 to help strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations.
"It's not something she plans to do or wishes to do," a Number 10 source told the BBC, in response to a call by former Tory leader Lord Hague.
But with the Tories riding high in the polls, why not?
The respected Conservative peer Lord Finkelstein recently spoke out on the subject at a private party attended by a host of senior Number 10 figures.
"The theory is that if the by-election results are good enough, surely she will be tempted to have a general election,” he said at last week’s event, held by public affairs firm Westminster Policy Institute.
"My view is the opposite: the better the by-election results, the more inclined she will be not to have a general election. Because she’s safe as prime minister if the by-election results are good.
"If the by-election results are bad and everyone begins to write that she shouldn’t hold a general election, that’s when she might hold one. And the reason is that under the fixed term parliament act, the one thing that’s supposed to be putting her off having a general election, that’s the one reason you might have one.
"Because you don’t want to be in a situation where you no longer have a majority, you can’t control confidence in the House of Commons and the other party can take over… The prime minister might then call a general election in order to avoid being in a situation in which she’s potentially yielding power without a general election to a coalition of Tory opponents."
There were suggestions that May could have gone to the country when she became Tory leader, in order to capitalise on the weakness of the opposition. However, under the Fixed Term Parliament Act she cannot technically call an election. May would require either the support of two thirds of MPs for an election, or she could call a vote of no confidence in her own government, which would only require a simple majority.
Writing in today's Daily Telegraph, Lord Hague argued that a snap election "would catch the Labour Party in its worst condition since the early 30s, and with its least credible leader ever".
He also stated: "We have a new Prime Minister and Cabinet facing the most complex challenges of modern times: Brexit negotiations, the Trump administration, the threat from Scottish nationalists, and many other issues.
"There is no doubt that they would be in a stronger position to take the country through these challenges successfully if they had a large and decisive majority in the Commons and a new full term ahead of them."