So much for fixed-term parliaments. Under a first-past-the-post election with badly divided anti-Tory forces, it’s hard to see how we’ll end up with anything other than more Conservative MPs, a devastated Labour Party, and a supposed mandate for the toughest, hardest, reddest-whitest-and-bluest Brexit, which has to be why May called it three years early. That, and sidestepping some unwelcome by-elections.
The thought of a general election
Fills Remainers with abject dejection,
As Brexiteers glory
In thoughts of a Tory
Supremacy, free from correction.
But maybe there’s some hope that the split down the middle of the electorate between Leavers and Remainers will cut across party lines in such unpredictable ways that May will end up regretting it.
I’m not sure how many might be reading this, but here’s a reminder that if you are a Commonwealth or Irish citizen resident in the UK, you can vote in UK general elections, so please register and help defend your fellow migrants—EU and otherwise—who can’t. I voted as an Australian citizen in England in the 1992 General Election, even though I lived there as a student for only a year, and again in 2005, before I became a dual citizen.
It may be a historical anomaly, but you still have every right to it. It also has the advantage of pissing off the Daily Mail. Before they get their Empire 2.0, let them deal with the consequences of Empire 1.0.
I added this comment yesterday at Metafilter:
There are many documented cases of EU citizens who, as a result of the referendum vote, have applied for indefinite leave to remain only to be told by the Home Office that they don’t meet their stringent conditions and should make preparations to leave, because blinkered Home Office bureaucrats haven’t thought to remove that menacing language from their letters to EU citizens who still have a right to live in what is—for the time being—an EU country. The psychological impact of that, of the uncertainty around what might happen to them after March 2019, is weighing on three million people in Britain, and countless others who are married to them or friends with them or work with them.
As a non-EU migrant to the UK, I know what it’s like to live with the Home Office hanging like the sword of Damocles over your future, and I came here before things got really bad; and under Theresa May as Home Secretary, things got really bad. If the current rules around Indefinite Leave to Remain were applied to EU27 UK residents without any special consideration—i.e., without any deal, which seems to be a perfectly acceptable possibility for most Brexit cheerleaders—then hundreds of thousands, maybe even millions, would have to leave. Many will be married to British citizens: it won’t matter. Many will have UK-citizen children: it won’t matter. Many will have no particular ties any longer in their home country: that won’t matter. This is happening now, to non-EU migrants in the UK who haven’t yet secured Indefinite Leave to Remain or citizenship and don’t have above-average incomes. It will happen to EU27 citizens too, unless a bunch of right-wing chancers under pressure from the most xenophobic elements of the British electorate negotiate a deal that guarantees residency for foreigners at the behest of the hated EU. “They can’t tell us who gets to stay here! Take back control!”
EU27 residents (apart from those from Ireland, Cyprus and Malta) can’t vote in UK general elections, so are totally dependent on the rest of us to stick up for them. And part of that should be to press candidates, MPs, ministers and parties to guarantee indefinite leave to remain for current EU27 residents, not at some future point, but now, as an election pledge. None of this hedging of bets and talk of negotiations: if you intend to negotiate about this, you’re suggesting that you are willing in theory to deport thousands of people who have made their lives here in good faith—and, as an inevitable consequence, to tear apart families and relationships, disrupt businesses, and diminish Britain’s standing among its neighbours. None of this should be up for negotiation. Unless you intend to put mass deportations in your election manifesto, take it off the table now.
Added by Rory on 21 April 2017.