Ever since the UK general public voted to leave the European Union by a slim margin, the country’s political landscape has been stark and fractious.
The 48 per cent who voted to stay in the EU called for another referendum, or for Parliament to ignore the vote to leave.
But neither option was one that would be considered by the UK’s Prime Minister Theresa May, who was firm in her conviction that Brexit means Brexit, meaning that she would do her best to honour the vote to leave.
While May seemed certain of what she wanted to do, nobody else was sure of anything – the business sector, in particular, wasn’t sure whether it should be following EU regulations or UK regulations, and they weren’t sure how to plan, or what to plan for.
And despite a vote in Parliament backing her and the vote to leave, May has now called for an early general election in the hope of finally settling the matter.
Some observers say May has called the election to strengthen her position, but it is obviously a risky ploy given the alternative possibility that her Conservative Party will lose and the Labour Party might win.
The Conservatives are generally seen as being the party which is more keen to leave the EU, while the Labour Party tends to be seen as mostly pro-EU.
This is an overly generalised view since there are splits within each party, with some wanting to leave and some wanting to stay.
But given that in recent days it has become increasingly clear that even if the UK does leave the EU, it would make little or no difference to the problem that made people want to leave in the first place – immigration.
A large section of the British people are fed up with too many immigrants flooding the streets, committing crimes and spongeing off the social services – as they see it.
But the problem is that even if the UK leaves the EU, a certain amount of immigration will continue because it is a central requirement of being in the European Single Market – something most people want to be part of.
As for immigrants from non-EU states, the EU had little or nothing to do with that in the first place, so it’s a bit pointless leaving the EU over it.
Strengthening the borders, being stricter about who is allowed in and who is kept out, as well as dealing more efficiently with crime, and so on, may have all formed parts of the solution, but the EU came to be seen as the bogeyman for all ills and voting to leave it made people feel – temporarily at least – that all their problems will now be addressed.
It may still turn out that Conservatives will win, and May will continue on her course of action and leave the EU.
In her statement outside Number 10 Downing Street today, May said: “I have just chaired a meeting of the Cabinet, where we agreed that the Government should call a general election, to be held on June 8.”
She said the government had delivered on the referendum result and will continue on its mandate to leave the EU.
“Britain is leaving the European Union and there can be no turning back,” said May. “And as we look to the future, the Government has the right plan for negotiating our new relationship with Europe.”
But she was unwilling to continue with so many threats of disruption from opposition parties.
“The country is coming together, but Westminster is not,” said May. “In recent weeks Labour has threatened to vote against the deal we reach with the European Union.
“The Liberal Democrats have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill. The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union.
“And unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way.
“Our opponents believe that because the Government’s majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course.”
The prime minister said her opponents under-estimate her government’s determination to go through with leaving the EU.
She added that she has called the election because she is not prepared to let her opponents “endanger the security of millions of working people across the country”.
She said: “I have concluded the only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead is to hold this election.”