Election win would give an unequivocal mandate

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Be honest, how many of us saw that coming?

As politicians’ U-turns go, it was a pretty dramatic one. Prime minister Theresa May’s announcement that we will be going to the polls on June 8 came after repeated insistence by her and others in the Tory party that a General Election would not be happening this year.

Yet now, as long as Mrs May gets a two-thirds majority in the Commons today in order to call the snap election, we find ourselves gearing up for another day of ballot box drama, barely two years after the last time.

Of course, an awful lot has happened since then. Our vote for Brexit did for chief Remainer David Cameron and led to Mrs May taking over at No 10.

The result of the referendum on Europe last summer is the reason why she wants an election, to bring warring Westminster together so that we can negotiate leaving the European Union and then do trade deals around the world from a position of unity and strength.

Her argument is that waiting until 2020 for a General Election, just after the deadline for an exit deal with the EU, poses a threat to a successful Brexit.

As Portsmouth North MP Penny Mordaunt says: ‘She wants to give the government the strongest hand possible to deliver for the UK.’

If the Conservatives win the General Election and Mrs May stays on as PM, then she can say without fear of contradiction that the people have backed the government’s Brexit plans. She will have an unequivocal mandate.

So will the opposition parties deliver some body blows when it comes to us putting our x on the voting slip on June 8? They have to believe that can happen.

Some MPs with slender majorities will be feeling nervous. But even those such as Portsmouth South MP Flick Drummond, who won the seat by more than 5,000 votes in 2015, are being targeted.

Going to the country so soon may be seen as a calculated gamble. But Mrs May knows the Tories are some way ahead in the opinion polls.

Stand by for 50 days of furious electioneering.