British prime minster Theresa May is fed up with a bickering parliament. To put her opponents in their place, today she announced a surprise snap general election to be held on June 8.
The focal point of the bickering is Brexit. Britsh voters narrowly voted to leave the leave the EU last June, but the vote was only advisory. It took nine months for the prime minister to work through court battles and parliamentary votes to gain the legal powers necessary to officially begin the divorce process, which she did last month. In a sense, the snap election will become a second referendum on Brexit.
EU rules give the UK government two years to negotiate the terms on which it will leave the bloc. Opposition parties are causing trouble by saying that they will resist any Brexit deal not to their liking—especially a so-called “hard Brexit,” in which the UK crashes out of the EU in two years with no transitional arrangements or special deals at all. In recent weeks, some Conservative bigwigs have suggested that a hard Brexit would not be a big deal for the UK economy—”perfectly OK,” in the words of foreign secretary Boris Johnson.