When Theresa May, the U.K. prime minister, called for a surprise snap election in April, she framed the vote as a necessary measure to give her Conservative government a strong mandate to press forward with negotiations over her country’s exit from the European Union. A strong Conservative showing in the election, scheduled for June 8, will also empower May to pursue a domestic agenda more aligned with her socially conservative politics, potentially by dismissing unreliable cabinet ministers like Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and David Davis, secretary of state for exiting the EU. It may also embolden the Conservatives to hold a vote on Syrian airstrikes.
For Gina Miller, the investment manager who successfully sued the government last year to ensure Parliament would get to vote on invoking Article 50 (the measure signaling the U.K.’s intent to leave the EU), May’s plan risks changing the country’s fundamental nature. Miller hyperbolically alleges that May will turn Britain into an “electoral dictatorship”—rather than just consolidating her majority. Last week, Miller convened an audience of journalists in a private room at London’s Institute of Contemporary Art to announce her plan to foil May’s election agenda. Since May announced the snap election just over two weeks ago, Miller has raised over £360,000 to fund the “Best for Britain” campaign, which aims to encourage citizens to vote for candidates of all parties (including Conservatives) most likely to challenge May’s vision of a “hard” Brexit—a departure from the European single market and the end of free movement—and demand Parliament secure a final vote on the final U.K. exit deal. Her team has reportedly received £25,000 and office space from Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group. Other, similar efforts, such as the Open Britain campaign supported by former Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair, and a smaller grassroots campaign called Tactical2017, led by Becky Snowden, a 28-year-old digital marketing worker, are also underway.