Friday 24 November 2017

May's mandate disappears like tears in the rain

Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip leave after casting their votes in
Sonning, Berkshire. Picture: PA
Prime Minister Theresa May and her husband Philip leave after casting their votes in Sonning, Berkshire. Picture: PA

Tim Stanley

One thing appears certain: Theresa May's huge popularity has disappeared like tears in the rain.

To be fair, Labour came from so far behind that even the prediction of an exit poll that they would reach around 262 seats is a huge victory, and one achieved at the cost of Conservative support.

Should we be surprised? Hell yes. Not only did the polls, broadly speaking, not foresee this, but the dynamic of the election appeared to favour Mrs May. Brexit won the referendum, Mrs May backed Brexit, Brexit is hugely popular, only a large Tory majority is likely to secure it - and that's the basis upon which this election was called. Plus, Ukip is thought to have slumped - and we all assumed that the Tories would be the major beneficiary. Instead, it may be that Labour has also picked up significant support.

Why? Well, it could be that youth turnout was as high as the Left hoped for. It could be that austerity has bitten too hard, that voters decided this election was not about Brexit but about the state of their schools and hospitals. And, to make things worse, the Tories seem to think they could cruise to victory from a battle bus. You don't call an election and then refuse to fight it. I've heard lots of voters say that in the past few days.

This would imply that at some point, the election became in part a referendum on Theresa May's premiership. Inevitably questions will be raised about how she threw away this historic opportunity.

Irish Independent

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