Theresa May Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

What Mandate for Theresa May?

The UK prime minister's decision to call a snap election reflects her hope of winning a large, docile majority in Parliament for whatever Brexit agreement she concludes with the EU. But, however large her victory in June turns out to be, if she strikes a bad deal – or no deal at all – her government can expect a very rough ride.

LONDON – British Prime Minister Theresa May doesn’t exactly have a reputation for unpredictability. A cautious and disciplined politician – a vicar’s daughter, no less – May doesn’t play around with the truth, nor does she take unnecessary risks or stray beyond a comfort zone populated by a tightknit group of advisers. So when she insisted, repeatedly, that she would not hold an election before the next due date, in 2020, she was believed unreservedly.

Then, last week, May called for a snap general election in June. Surprise.

May’s change of heart certainly seemed out of character. But it was hardly the political bombshell that many have made it out to be. In fact, in many ways, it was a logical move. After all, opinion polls put May’s Conservative Party some 20 percentage points ahead of the opposition Labour Party.

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