Since the Prime Minister announced a snap election journalists have spent many hours suggesting her reasons for doing so, such as the need for a personal mandate for Brexit, the natural pause in the Brexit negotiations during the French and German elections, and the Conservative lead in the polls. It is clear that a renewed Conservative majority would give the new government the representative mandate for Brexit it currently lacks. A referendum mandate via direct democracy in our system still does not have the same empowering authority as actually winning an election, even if fewer people vote for the new government than voted Leave in the referendum.
The general election will also resolve the question of whether the government has the right to drive through the detail of the legislation which it considers to be in the best interests of the nation. Some were holding out the prospect of the House of Lords cherry picking its way through the Great Reform Bill and the other draft acts of Parliament necessary to deliver Brexit, and possibly delaying key provisions and forcing the use of the Parliament Acts to get stuff through. With a Commons majority of only twelve, and without a new mandate, the detail of the government’s Brexit legislation would have lacked democratic legitimacy. This risk was that we would have seen how nothing destroys the credibility of a UK government more effectively than the failure of its legislative programme. A new Government with a stronger majority will be entitled to insist on application of the Salisbury Convention, which requires the House of Lords to respect what has been passed by the Commons if it was set out in the government’s election manifesto, and to let it pass.
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