By far and away the most dramatic moment of the general election campaign so far came when Theresa May stepped to the podium in Downing Street this week and announced the formal dissolution of Parliament.
Instead of the frequent platitudes in such moments, the PM decided to use the opportunity to hit back at Jean-Claude Juncker’s briefing against her following their disastrous dinner the previous week. Invoking some of the belligerent spirit of Donald Trump’s inauguration address, she declared that the EU was trying to meddle in Britain’s election, and up with this she will not put.
Britain hasn’t had a “khaki election” for a very long time, but it almost feels as if the Prime Minister is trying to engineer one. Whilst the electoral benefits may be obvious, in an election she is almost certain to win anyway the longer term consequences for the prospects of her Premiership have to be considered. The Brexit negotiations were always likely to be difficult, but events of the last week suggest the prospects of a positive outcome might be even worse than anyone had realised.
All of which has left the electoral focus this week on Theresa May, and Brexit, and leadership. The Leader of the Opposition is nowhere. And no-one is seriously contemplating how he would deal with Juncker and the Commission. Whilst this week may bode ill for the Brexit negotiations, it probably does no harm at all to Theresa May’s electoral chances. With two weeks of the campaign down, there is nothing to challenge the central assumption that we’re heading for a Tory landslide. Five weeks to go, and time is running out for Labour.