Election gamble in April does not pay off for May

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Last year, was a time of unexpected political events. And though Donald Trump becoming the President of the US might have gotten the most limelight, it was not the start of the political upheaval that the world witnessed.

That prize goes to the decision of the UK to quit the European Union, a step which has been termed as 'Brexit.' And for all the ramifications that this might eventually have on the world and European economy, the political impact can be seen in what it has meant for the prime ministers of Britain.

Election gamble in April does not pay off for May

With the results of the latest general elections now determined, it may very well see Britain getting its third PM since the referendum held last year to decide if it should stay as a part of EU.

And the unexpected final tally for the ruling Conservative party being below a clear majority following the current elections, will in all probability see the exit of Prime Minister Theresa May from office. A fate similar to that of her predecessor David Cameron after the Brexit referendum.

It will most likely happen in either eventuality i.e. if the opposition is able to form a coalition government which would make May's exit certain, or even if the Conservative's are able to conjure up a government, the likelihood that she will continue to head it are minuscule at best.

A major setback for May

This will be so as the results can be treated as nothing but a shock and a clear defeat for the British prime minister. After all, it was her decision to call for snap polls even though the last elections that gave the party a clear victory were only held a couple of years ago in 2015.

And her election gamble has failed. May orchestrated Thursday's election in a hope of increasing the Conservative party's parliamentary majority which would have given her a surer footing when it comes to the negotiations that Britain is having with the rest of Europe on its exit from EU.

But now with the results out it has become certain that not only has May not got what she wanted, she has even lost the standing that she already had. And though the Conservatives in all likelihood will still form the government, the chances of May heading it seem slim at best.

Especially since the party's election campaign changed from its traditional party first approach to that more in line with a presidential style which focussed on "strong and stable" leadership.

And so the result to is set to be seen as a verdict on her leadership. Including on issues such as a failure to win over the opposition vote share which was in favour of Brexit; the party manifesto published under her leadership which had a number of unpopular policies; to the style of running the campaign, mishandling the situation in the aftermath of terror attacks, and an ultimately call for elections which have instead of making the party's position stronger led it to find ways of holding on to power.

In addition to all this, it will be seen as an extremely weak performance as it came against a political rival, Labour Party, which has been engulfed by infighting and whose leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is not seen as a major and popular leader in the country.

The "Brexit" curse

Former Prime Minister, David Cameron, won the elections held in 2015 for the Conservative party and rode back to power for a second term. And soon after winning he declared the intention of his government to hold a referendum where citizens would vote to decide whether Britain remains a part of the European Union or not.

He though was leading the side which was against such an exit, while the overall support of his party was in favour of it. The narrow defeat that Cameron suffered on the issue, led to him resigning from his post, even though he was not bound to do so. It was after this that May, who was in favour of Brexit, replaced him.

Following this, the country has suffered condemnation, from most of Europe for its choice and the negotiations on the details of such an exit, within the country and Europe.

This was considered as one of the main reasons behind May's call for polls so early in the term. As a strong victory, would have given her a solid standing in parliament to negotiate on her own terms instead of going through long debates with the opposition, and would be seen as having the complete backing of the people on decisions made at home and Europe.

But her choice, instead of giving her what she wanted has ended up making her fend off attacks for her leadership of the party and of the government. And Cameron's step to resign after the Brexit defeat would also put extra pressure on May to take the current results as nothing but a defeat and tender her resignation.

The challengers

Opposition parties have already started to ask for her resignation along with murmurs in her own party on the issue also being heard.

While the current seat tally makes it likely that the opposition would in all likelihood not be able to form the government. The result sees the other leaders in her own party gunning for its leadership, which in case the Conservatives are able to form a coalition government, would make them the next prime minister.

Names such as those of the former mayor of London, Boris Johnson, who is now the Foreign Secretary, are already being reported to be interested to take over from May.

Though such a discussion might seem a bit pre-mature, a look at what other leaders have said just after the forecasts for the polls and not the actual results would make such a debate look more than timely.

Former Chancellor (Finance Minister), George Osborne, had reacted by calling the exit poll results as "catastrophic" for the party as well as for the prime minister personally. And he is even reported to have suggested that the result would be good news for Johnson in his attempts to try to win the leadership of the party.

While Sir Craig Oliver, David Cameron's former director of communications, referred to May's decision as "the biggest gamble a politician has taken for a long time and if that exit poll is right, it's failed."

And it is more than certain that Johnson would not be the only leader who would want to take over from May once the dust around the results settles down.

The Conclusion

The political crisis is far from over for May. And after the initial permutations and combinations of how to form the government are tried and tested before being applied, the leadership issue is bound to get plenty of spotlight, if not sooner.

This is true in particular as the defeat is being seen as her single handed failure, due to mistakes pointed out by her own party leaders as well as analysts.

So Brexit, which is best described as a 'black swan' event, meaning random and unexpected, has had more than the generally expected economic impact, as it is almost certain to become the cause behind two prime ministers of Britain losing their jobs in less than a year.

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