PMs without majorities shouldn’t be able to call elections
The Fixed-term Parliament Act was the most lasting constitutional change to come out of the 2010 to 2015 Conservative Liberal Democrat coalition.
It was always said that it was unnecessary because the main opposition party would always vote for an election if that was offered as we saw in April 2017. That thinking has changed this past month with Corbyn’s LAB not taking the bait. He knows that the new parliamentary arithmetic means that LAB in conjunction with other opposition parties are now in the driving position when it comes choosing the date.
Corbyn’s ducking of the offer twice means that he and not the PM can determine whether or not there will be a general election and no doubt Labour will decide when the best moment is for the party.
This is a complete turnaround from what used to exist. The ability to call elections up to 2011 was part of the prerogative powers that were in the hands of the prime minister even if they led a minority government.
The fact that Johnson is in a theoretical minority of -43 seats is what is behind his current weakness – a fact that doesn’t seem to have registered with Cummings the man who is really in charge
The big question, of course is whether an election takes place before or after the crucial October 31st Brexit date. The Johnson/Dom reasoning is clearly that the Tories stand a far better chance of offsetting likely losses to the SNP and LDs by going in October. It would be easier to focus the election almost entirely on Brexit before the due date rather than afterwards.
If there’s an extension that puts Johnson in a more vulnerable position because of his much repeated assertions that the UK would be out by the end of October.
Before the FTPA even a PM like Johnson who has never won a Commons vote could choose general election date at a time when it was most beneficial to his or her party. Now that’s changed and those who want the act repealed should appreciate that they are giving an extraordinary power to the incumbent PM. Maybe they would think differently if their opponent was running the country?