Yesterday Theresa May took the country, and her own Cabinet, by surprise, after she announced her intention to hold a snap general election on 8 June, going back on her promise not to hold a general election before 2020.
The news channels interrupted their coverage of the White House Easter Egg Roll to break the story that the prime minister plans to roll the dice and send the country back to vote, a mere two years since the last general election.
Her announcement outside Downing Street shocked the political world (and, most memorably, Brenda from Bristol), having previously insisted that no vote would be held before the end of this session’s current term. Guaranteeing “certainty and stability”, May concluded that her decision would strengthen her hand when it comes to negotiating Britain’s smooth exit from the European Union.
She told ITV News last night that it was a walk through Wales with her husband before Easter that convinced her to reluctantly pull the trigger on an early election, and she informed the Queen of her intention on Easter Monday, with her Cabinet finding out the following day.
Current polling has the Conservatives around 20 points clear of Labour in the polls, which would translate into a margin of victory of around 100 seats. This would relieve the pressure on the prime minister from the right-wing of her party, and raises the prospect of a softer Brexit being delivered, something which the markets reacted to favourably yesterday, spearheaded by a surge in the pound. However, concerns remain that the move might be a pre-cursor to forcing through a hard Brexit.
May will today lead a vote in the House of Commons to grant permission to send voters back to the ballot box. It needs the backing of two-thirds of MP’s – around 100 non-Tory MP’s – to dissolve parliament on the stroke of midnight on 3 May, a day before local elections get underway across England, Wales and Scotland.
Jeremy Corbyn faces an exodus of his own MPs before the election, as his colleagues consider avoiding the election in what is likely to be a tough vote for the party. Alan Johnson, the former home secretary, was one of two Labour MPs immediately to announce yesterday that he would not stand, and more are expected to follow in the coming days. (£)
The US military is considering intercepting North Korean missiles as a show of strength to Pyongyang, as the Pentagon considers ways to bring about denuclearization amid rising tensions with the nation.
Marine Le Pen has been accused of reverting to the toxic past of the National Front yesterday, as she attempts to revive what is being deemed a a flagging presidential campaign. Le Pen announced a pledge to suspend all visas for non-Europeans seeking to join family members in France. (£)
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
Theresa May has been given an early election boost after the International Monetary Fund upgraded UK growth for the second time in six months. Britain is now forecast to grow by 2 per cent this year, the biggest upgrade of all the G7 nations. (£)
Next boss Lord Wolfson has missed out on his annual bonus for the first time in 18 years after annual profits fell for the first time in eight years. The company has seen shoppers spend less on clothing and seen competitors eat into their share of the market after modernising their offering.
Higher interest rates and an energy sector rebound have contributed to two major US banks reporting increased profits for the first quarter of the year. Profits at Bank of America were up 44% from the same period last year to $4.35bn (£3.44bn), while Goldman Sachs profits rose 80% from a year earlier to $2.2bn.
Much of the reaction in the markets yesterday were unsurprisingly related to yesterday/s announcement of a snap general election.
Sterling had dropped in anticipation of May’s unexpected statement outside Downing Street, but rose sharply and by 5pm it had risen 1.6% at $1.276, while against the euro it was 1% higher at 1.192 euros.
The increase in the pound meant the FTSE dropped down further as many of the companies listed on the index have significant revenues from overseas. The FTSE 100 fell 180 points to its lowest level for nearly 10 weeks, and means it now sits a mere 0.2% higher than at the start of the year.
Bunzl,Harwood Wealth Management Group, RTC Group, XP Power Ltd. (DI)
Int Economic Announcements
(07:00) Producer Price Index (GER)
(10:00) Consumer Price Index (EU)
(11:00) Balance of Trade (EU)
(11:00) Consumer Price Index (EU)
(13:30) Continuing Claims (US)
(13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US)
(15:30) MBA Mortgage Applications (US)
COLUMNS OF NOTE
Chris Deerin, writing for CapX, has concluded that the snap election is not only good for Theresa May’s personal career but for the country too. He believes that the election will deliver a stable Conservative government and accelerate the process for the emergence of a credible centrist party on the Left.
Writing in the Financial Times, Janan Ganesh says yesterday’s announcement means that hopes for a reversal of the EU referendum vote are definitively dashed. He says the majority that will be returned will dilute the influence of bothersome colleagues on both sides of the EU debate, and says Scotland remains the only limiter to the most powerful prime minister since the second world war. (£)
DID YOU KNOW?
The general election will see 650 MP’s returned to the House of Commons, however the chamber only has 427 seats. To secure a spot on the famous green benches, MPs have to roll up at 8am, and place a "prayer card" in the place they would like to sit. They then have to be in the chamber at the start of that day's sitting, for prayers.
House of Commons
Scotland, including Topical Questions
Prime Minister's Questions
Exiting the European Union - Oral Evidence Session
The progress of negotiations on the UK's withdrawal from the EU
House of Lords
In recess until 24th April.
Portfolio Questions: Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform
Scottish Conservative Debate: Scotland's Economy
House of Commons
Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, including Topical Questions
Church Commissioners, the House of Commons Commission, the Public Accounts Commission and the Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission
Leader of the House
First Minister's Questions
Scottish Government Debate: Defence Basing Reforms and the Impact on Scotland