WHAT a strange way to run a country.

Since taking office in July last year, Theresa May has repeatedly said “now is not the time” for a Westminster general election.

With the next election scheduled for 2020, She said going to the polls early would cause instability.

Then, she went into the Snowdonia Hills for five days and, on her return, declared there would be an election on June 8. What changed in those five days?

Theresa May’s excuse for her U-turn is that her plans for Brexit are meeting opposition. Is it any wonder?

David Davis admitted that no economic analysis underpins her plan to leave the single market.

Tory Lords raised the Falklands as a warning to Spain over Gibraltar and Boris Johnson could not work out how to respond.

The letter triggering Article 50 linked co-operation on tackling terrorism with an agreement on trade: the government’s defence was that it was a badly written letter!

Even her Brexit opposition excuse does not bear examination. as For crucial votes on Brexit, Labour simply failed to oppose, and, when there were divisions, the government had a comfortable majority.

So, why is a Prime Minister with a working majority able to call an election three years early, choosing the time for party advantage?

The Fixed Term Parliament Act should have stopped this abuse of the democratic system. However, once more, it seems the UK’s “unwritten constitution” bends to the advantage of those in power.

Make no mistake, this was not the time to trigger an election.

The Northern Ireland Assembly is deadlocked and Westminster has to pass emergency legislation just to keep things ticking over.

There is even talk of direct rule from London, which Dublin will oppose.

Across Scotland, England, and Wales, local government elections are under way, with voting on May 4.

Theresa May simply sidelined these local elections. So much for a focus on the day job: Issues like education, social care and roads are important and the Prime Minister should not have pushed them aside on a whim.

Of course, there has been no attempt by local Conservatives to protect local democracy from such interference.

Also in the background of this decision is evidence of Conservative candidates spending well above legal limits in the 2015 General Election.

Despite attempts to obstruct their investigations, the Electoral Commission fined the Conservative Party £70,000 and reported the party treasurer to the police.

With the calling of this snap (should that be ‘panic’?) election, dozens of Conservative MPs still under police investigation will be allowed to stand for re-election. Perhaps that is why Theresa May feels in need of a larger majority, because some of her current MPs face removal from parliament.

The announcement leaves a great deal of unfinished business. Theresa May’s decision to renege on securing a UK-wide position on Brexit displayed arrogance and a contempt for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The calamitous ‘rape clause’ is one more outrage from a government with a growing record of attacking the vulnerable.

The government’s policy on disability benefits and its shambolic handling of changes to women’s pension age were causing real outrage, even on her own benches.

Calling this election allows the government two months without scrutiny from MPs at a time of their choosing, which is why I did not vote to endorse Theresa May’s decision to cut and run.