United Kingdom

Manchester bombing changing stakes in UK election

Rich Edson

In two weeks, amid heightened security concerns, British voters will select their next government.

After Monday’s terrorist attack in Manchester, the candidates suspended campaigning. It is unclear when they will resume.

But it is already changing the political narrative.

“This does give Prime Minister Theresa May and her cabinet a great deal of visibility because of the security crisis, and so that will in some ways enhance her standing,” Heather A. Conley, the director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “I think this just solidifies where people's views were before the events happened as we saw before the French election again, it did not really make a significant difference.”

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Lately, May and her Conservative Party’s lead over the Labour Party and its leader, Jeremy Corbyn, has narrowed.

Last month, the Conservative Party widely led in polling. May figured she could expand her majority in Parliament and strengthen her negotiating position in discussions to leave the E.U. She called an election for June 8, three years ahead of schedule.

“At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster but instead there is division,” May said last month. “The country is coming together but Westminster is not.”

In a six-month span this year, France, the U.K. and Germany, the United States’ top European allies, are holding national elections.

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“This is a very important moment for the future of Europe, the future of the United Kingdom's relationship with the European Union,” said Conley. “As we look toward the U.K. as our most important intelligence partner, our strong strategic partner in military and security issues, this election is important to the United States.”

May has already discussed with President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan a possible free trade agreement between the U.K. and U.S. Corbyn last year opposed a free trade agreement between the two countries.

Rich Edson is a Washington correspondent for Fox News Channel. Prior to that, he served as Fox Business Network's Washington correspondent.