In Depth

Should Theresa May call an early general election?

William Hague warns 'trouble is coming' over Brexit and urges PM to look for bigger majority

27 June

With Britain still deeply divided over the outcome of the EU referendum and the two major political parties divided over who should lead them forward and how, is a general election the only way out of the post-referendum chaos?

The next one isn't due until 2020, but a legislative loophole allows a two-third majority of MPs to set an earlier date.

Now, a growing number of politicians and commentators are arguing that a prompt general election is the only way to establish a credible mandate for the future.

"There is no shared understanding of what our country is or should be," argues Juliet Samuel in the Daily Telegraph. "Even inside the Leave campaign, there is no coherent idea of how the country should look."

According to party website Conservative Home, a Leave MP will almost certainly take the Tory top spot when members vote for their new leader – which creates problems of its own.

"Tory Remain refuseniks may well dig in to deny the new Government much of its business," the site says, leaving a pro-Brexit Tory government without a workable majority.

"A general election might not resolve the impasse, but no other means will be at hand that offers a chance of doing so."

The next Tory leader "will immediately come under pressure to call an early election", says The Independent. A general election could be held as soon as this autumn, or early in 2017.

At the moment, it's almost impossible to predict what the outcome might be if Britain does go to the polls within a year.

Before the referendum, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn declared he was "very ready" to contest a snap election. However, the open lack of faith in his leadership, which has seen more than a dozen resignations and one sacking in the shadow cabinet, does not bode well for his ability to win a majority at the polls.

Then there are the Liberal Democrats, who had been looking moribund since their decimation in the 2015 elections but who have proven to be the surprise winners of Brexit.

Their pledge to block Britain's withdrawal from the EU if elected has seen thousands sign up to the party and could end up being the springboard that propels them back to the forefront of British politics.

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