This Thursday, the United Kingdom will be holding a “snap election” – an election called before the end of the Prime Minister’s traditional five-year term. After the turmoil of last year’s referendum that affirmed the desire by a (slim) majority of Britons to leave the European Union, often called “Brexit,” current Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May sought to strengthen her mandate to lead the divided country through the legal processes that will eventually result in the separation of the UK from the European Union by calling this early election. As May was never elected by the people, but instead was chosen by the sitting Conservative parliament to replace departing PM David Cameron, who stepped down in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, her authority as Prime Minister is arguably weaker than usually seen in modern democratic nations.
The Prime Minister’s main opponent in this week’s election is the leader of the Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn. Based on polling, neither candidate is especially popular, though the Conservative party is expected to win the election by a substantial degree, which would see Theresa May continue on as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, though with a much stronger mandate for her leadership. This greater authority to make and carry out major decisions is considered by many to be crucial for the British Prime Minister’s ability to strike a deal with the EU regarding the terms on which the UK departs the European Union.
As of now, Theresa May has cultivated a strong working relationship with US President Donald Trump; Labour leader Corbyn has been strongly critical of both PM May’s relationship with President Trump, and of the President more generally. In the unlikely event that Labour wins the June 8th election, the future working relationship between our two countries may be fairly significantly impacted. In addition to questions arising about the future relationships between Britain and Europe, as well as Britain and the United States, domestic policy in the UK is also a growing concern of the government. In the wake of the recent slew of terrorist attacks taking place across the United Kingdom, many debates have started over the most suitable candidate for tackling not only critical international topics, but dangerous domestic counterterrorism issues.
Overall, though the Conservative party is expected to remain in power, this election will be key in choosing who leads the United Kingdom through a series of international decisions and in grappling with international tensions among Western nations, affecting not only the British people, but the entire world.
The New York Times
Lora Uhlig is a fourth-year student at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland, and is studying for a degree in International Relations.