Theresa May's call for a snap general election this week has shocked Westminster and the country, but it's a bold move that could reshape her Brexit strategy.
So why did she do it? After months of opinion polls pulling the conservatives ahead of the labour party by double digits, Theresa May finally conceded that a general election will boost her Brexit negotiating hand. On Tuesday, she announced the UK will go to the polls on June the 8th. The six-week campaign will be all about leaving the EU, and battling those political forces the Prime Minister claims don't want it to happen.
Although Mrs. May blamed the attitude of labour, the Scottish nationalists, the unelected House of Lords, the real reason is her own party. Her slim majority of just 12 seats in the House of Commons means she's beholden to the left and the right of the Conservatives who want to shape her strategy. Mrs. May won't be beholden to no one, and make the necessary Brexit compromise on her own terms.
With a large likely majority after this election, she will have the opportunity to do that. The other significant impact of this election will be on the transition deal. Mrs. May will likely have a majority in the House of Commons until 2022, which will allow her to have two years of Brexit talks plus another three years to gradually leave the EU through a transition.
That means free movement of people, and single market membership can continue in the short term, but she now has breathing space before facing the electorate again. Crucially, that means no cliff edge exit from the EU, and businesses can breathe a sigh of relief.
Yet it is still a big gamble. Unpredictable things can happen in an election campaign, and who knows what forces might appear. But if it pays off, Mrs. May will end up master of all she surveys.