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5 Unanswered Questions After Parliament Approves Snap Election

UK Parliament, 2013

A woman now known as “Brenda from Bristol” rapidly became the voice of the nation when her reaction to Theresa May’s snap election announcement went viral. 

Nevertheless, as expected, Parliament has voted to call a general election on 8th June 2017 with a majority of 522 votes to 13. 

Read More: Here We Go Again! Theresa May Calls Snap General Election

The countdown to the election may have officially begun, but the parliamentary debate that took place before the vote has left several questions unanswered. Here are five of them: 

1) Is This Election Just About Brexit? 

In her announcement and subsequent statements, Theresa May has made it clear that the main aim behind the general election is to give her government a clear mandate for Britain’s future after Brexit and strengthen the government’s negotiating hand. To defend the decision that she came to “reluctantly,” May has argued that a general election is the only way to secure “unity” at Westminster, blaming the opposing parties of "gameplaying" designed to frustrate the negotiating process. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn rejects these claims.

“We had a referendum that established that mandate. Parliament has voted to accept that result,” he said, pointing to the fact that a majority of Labour MPs voted in favour of upholding the referendum decision. “There is no obstacle to the government negotiating.” Yet, he has welcomed the call for a general election, claiming it as “a chance to change direction.”  

The Liberal Democrats are seizing the opportunity for a potential comeback, as leader Tim Farron argued that his was the only party that could prevent a Conservative majority and stop a “blank cheque” for a hard Brexit. 

So Brexit is still the main talking point. How far negotiations with the EU will feature in the party programmes is yet to be revealed, but one thing is clear — the outcome of the election will have a decisive impact on what Brexit actually means. 


2) TV Debates Will Go Ahead, But Will Theresa May Show Up?

May faced calls from opposition leaders, and even encouragement from members of her own parties, to go head-to-head with her opponents in a televised debate. Research from the University of Leeds has shown that televised debates are an effective means of engaging more young people in politics. These debates are becoming the norm in the 21st century, so broadcaster ITV announced they would go ahead with candidates willing to participate, despite the prime minister’s assertions that she would not take part. In her words, elections are about "getting out and about and meeting voters."

Still, with the decision to hold an early election, Theresa May has proven willing to change her mind. If the other leaders opt to go ahead with a live debate, will the Prime Minister leave her chair empty? 

Read More: There's Only 7 Weeks Until the Snap Election — Register to Vote Now


3) Should 16- to 18-Year-Olds Be Allowed to Vote? 

Leader of the Green Party Caroline Lucas highlighted the importance of young people’s voices on the future of the country. She said: 

"Theresa May should give Britain’s 1.5m 16 and 17 year olds – the first generation to have received citizenship education – a say in what will very much be their future. The government should urgently change the law to expand the electorate – using the remaining parliamentary time to truly hand people control. After trebling tuition fees, cutting housing benefit for young people and slashing the educational maintenance allowance – surely the government should give young people a chance to have a say on the policies that are affecting them." 

SNP leader in the House of Commons, Angus Robertson, supported this statement, reminding the Commons that 16-year-olds were allowed to vote in the Scottish independence referendum. 

Engaging younger votes in the upcoming election is critical in redressing the divisions caused by Brexit, which generally saw older voters opt to leave while the young largely voted to remain. While it is unlikely that the voting age will be lowered by the next election, it’s vital that young people who can vote do register and turn up on polling day to make sure their voice is not ignored. 

4) Will Theresa May Commit to Spending 0.7% of GNI on Overseas Aid?  

UKAidFactsTweet.jpg

During Prime Minister’s Question Time, Conservative MP Richard Benyon addressed the House to say: “I am proud that my party in government has ensured that we fulfil in this country our commitment to Nato to spend 2% on defence, and our commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas aid. Will my right honourable friend please commit the future Conservative government to do the same?” 

In her reply, she did not specify whether the commitment would be maintained in the Conservative manifesto or after the election. Instead the prime minister gave this response:

 “My right honourable friend is absolutely correct. Obviously, we've committed to meet our Nato pledge of 2% of GDP being spent on defence every year of this decade, we are delivering on that… We're meeting out commitment to spend 0.7% of GNI on overseas development assistance and I can assure my right honourable friend that we remain committed as a Conservative Party to ensure the defence and security of this country and to work for a stronger world.” 

As hostility to UK aid mounts in the UK media, Global Citizen is calling on the government to maintain its commitment to the world’s poorest by upholding the law to spend 0.7% of the gross national income on overseas aid. As the election campaigns kick in, we must ensure aid does not become a political football, jeopardising the incredible work UK aid achieves for less than a penny in every pound. 

Take Action Now: Tell Your MP Why You're Proud of UK Aid

5) Can the Country Face Another Election so Soon? 

We’ll see. According to 522 MPs, the answer is “Yes”. According to Brenda it’s “No”.

However you feel, it’s officially happening, and it’s certainly going to be a thrilling ride. 

This isn't going to go well. 😬 [via Jukin Media]

Posted by theCHIVE on Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Hang in there — and stay tuned for more updates.