THE first December election for nearly a century became inevitable once it emerged that Boris Johnson would be unable to deliver Brexit by tomorrow’s self-imposed deadline.
It is also an admission that this Parliament will go down as one of the worst of modern times – MPs had one task, to implement the EU referendum result, and they failed miserably.
And while general elections are traditionally a time for a fresh start, irrespective of their timing, the backdrop to this eve of Christmas poll does differ to past campaigns.
Not only have rival political parties bickered over dates, but deep suspicions about the motives and tactics of their rivals further eroded public confidence in politics when trust is already so fragile.
The fact that the word ‘trust’ featured 49 times in Monday’s ill-tempered election debate, before Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn consented to the poll that he has been demanding for over two years, spoke volumes about the current state of play.
And at a time when all parties, and factions, are so deeply divided – whether it be Brexit or the wider economy – this election is not intended to be a re-run of the 2016 referendum.
Yes, Britain needs to implement Brexit and move on. But the aforementioned issue of ‘trust’ will also be fundamental – even more so at a time when all parties have broken past promises to varying degrees.
And while some, notably Mr Johnson who now risks, at nearly 100 days in office, becoming one of the shortest-serving PMs in history, will want Brexit – and his People versus Parliament rallying cry – to dominate, general elections should not be about a single issue.
They should be a debate about new ideas – not slogans or soundbites – and the public will not take kindly to those who simply use it as a vehicle to besmirch the integrity of opponents.
Quite the opposite. Not only is each party duty-bound to explain how they intend to command the public’s trust over Brexit – most MPs elected in 2017 were committed, after all, to delivering on the previous year’s referendum – but a positive vision for Britain’s trade and foreign policy.
They will also be expected to set out a clear, coherent and fully costed prospectus for all of the key public services – an early consequence of the EU’s Brexit extension, and calling of an election, is the postponement of next week’s Budget.
There will also be pressure for them to confront the neglected issue of social care – any party without a credible plan will, frankly, not deserve to be taken seriously on the doorsteps by voters.
And while readers will have their own priorities, The Yorkshire Post will, for one, be challenging all parties over their prospectus for the Northern Powerhouse and Yorkshire devolution to ensure that this region – home to a swathe of bellwether seats – is taken even more seriously by the next Government after the election.
Yet this campaign will ultimately come down to a simple question – who do you most trust to look after your future, and entrust with uniting this country, on December 12 as MPs finally put a desperately deadlocked Parliament out of its misery?