Theresa May resignation: Will there be a UK general election? How likely is a Scottish independence referendum?

The writing has been on the wall for Theresa May since she failed to deliver Brexit, as repeatedly promised, on March 29.

Friday, 24th May 2019, 4:41 pm
Theresa May has announced her departure

Her position has been irretrievably weakened by the fateful decision to hold a general election in 2017 while riding high in the polls. And her campaigning weaknesses were exposed and she lost her Commons majority leaving her unable to find manage splits in her own party and problems over the Irish backstop issue.

Mrs May’s latest Brexit Bill prompted the departure of Andrea Leadsom as Commons leader on Wednesday saying she no longer believed it would "deliver on the referendum result", while home secretary Sajid Javid and foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt also expressed concerns about the bill.

The expected trouncing in the Euro elections was the final straw.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Theresa May has announced her departure

Read More

Read More
Theresa May resignation: Who are the candidates to be the next Conservative lead...

Will there be a general election?

It seems unlikely that any of the frontrunners to replace Mrs May are likely to go to the country before Brexit situation is sorted out. The last election was only two years, meaning another is not due until 2022 and a two-thirds majority would be required in the Commons before this could be enacted.

Labour wants a general election and has been pushing for this as a means to resolve the Brexit chaos and would support such a move in the Commons. But both main parties are expected to face a drubbing at the hands of Nigel Farage's newly-formed Brexit party in the current election and there's no reason to think a general election would provide a different outcome.

Theresa May announced she would stand down on 7 June. Picture: PA

Will there be a second referendum on EU membership?

A second EU referendum now seems dead in the water with Mrs May's departure. The backlash against Mrs May's latest Brexit Bill from within her own party was prompted by the fact that it did open the door to the prospect of a second referendum being staged. This was anathema to many Brexit hardliners within her cabinet.

The Liberal Democrats have been campaigning for such a "People's Vote" and Labour say they could back it if a general election is thwarted. The SNP is also behind a second vote to spare Scotland's the damaging consequences of EU exit.

Has the likelihood of a "No Deal" Brexit been enhanced?

It does seem that the Mrs May will be replaced by a Brexiteer candidate, with Boris Johnson and Dominic Rabb among the frontrunners. This would enhance the likelihood of the new regime in Downing Street being prepared to walk away without a deal when the current extension expires in October. This would mean reverting to WTO (World Trade Organisation) rules in our dealings with the EU and the imposition of costly tariffs. The only barrier to such a scenario would be if the significant tranche of pro-EU Tories decide to vote with the opposition to bring down the Government as the only way to avoid this outcome.

Will this mean a second independence referendum for Scotland?

Nicola Sturgeon has already indicated that she wants to hold a second independence referendum in the next two years and legislation will be published at Holyrood in the coming months. But this requires authority from Westminster in the form of a Section 30 order.

Ms Sturgeon hasn't even bothered to seek this from the departing Mrs May, but indicated she would look to deal with the next Prime Minister on this issue. But Scots Tory leader Ruth Davidson has said that Mrs may's replacement must take a strong stand on Scotland's place in the union and it's hard to see authority for a second referendum being passed to Holyrood while the Brexit turmoil ensues.