Former Conservative leader William Hague has called for snap elections to give Prime Minister Theresa May more “legitimacy” in the eyes of EU leaders and Parliament ahead of Brexit negotiations.
Hague has suggested scrapping the Fixed-Term Parliament Act passed in 2011, under which the PM cannot dissolve Parliament before the five-year term is up, unless there is a Commons vote where two-thirds of MPs back early elections. The act could also be overridden if there is a vote of no confidence in the government.
“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,” Hague wrote in an opinion piece for the Telegraph.
“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.”
Early elections would help May’s government garner support for Brexit not only in the EU but also in Parliament, according to Hague.
“Any deal is bound to be full of compromises which one group or another in Parliament finds difficult to stomach.
“As British law needs to be amended countless times to take account of leaving the EU treaties, the government could face many close votes, concessions or defeats as it tries to implement Brexit,” writes Hague.
“That prospect will embolden the EU negotiators, and makes an agreement that is good for the UK harder to achieve.
“It could also lead to a situation where the prime minister faces a standoff with Parliament over a deal that will have taken two years to negotiate and is nearly impossible to change.”
Hague claimed now was the ideal time to hold an election in light of the Labour Party’s “demise” under leader Jeremy Corbyn.
The former foreign secretary said Corbyn is the “least credible leader ever” and that Labour is in its “worst condition since the 1930s.”
Hague made the remarks just after a YouGov poll found that the majority of Labour Party members think it would be best for Corbyn to step down before the next election.
While 36 percent think Corbyn should resign immediately, 14 percent believe he should do so before people head to the polls in three years’ time.
Opposition among party members is even more striking considering large numbers of them chose Corbyn as leader in the first place.
May has made it clear, however, that she rejects the idea of holding early elections as they would be self-serving and cause further uncertainty at a time when the country needs stability.
The government is likely to see Article 50 – the bill allowing May to trigger the official process for the UK’s exit from the EU – amended for the second time by the House of Lords today.
While peers last week called for the rights of EU citizens in the UK to be guaranteed, they are now calling on the government to make sure that Parliament gets a “meaningful vote” on the final Brexit deal before it is finalized.
Yet the amendments are likely to be scrapped when they return to the Commons next week.