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UK: Theresa May calls snap general election to be held on June 8

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UK: Theresa May calls snap general election to be held on June 8

  • May calls early election
  • UK Conservatives odds-on favourites
  • Opposition Labour Party welcomes call

British Prime Minister Theresa May has called an early election for June 8.

May says she needs to strengthen her hand in divorce talks with the European Union and hopes the poll result will shore up support.

Standing outside her Downing Street office, May said she had been reluctant about asking parliament to back her move to bring the vote forward from its planned date in 2020.

However, she decided it was necessary to win support for her governing Conservative Party’s efforts to press ahead with the UK’s departure from the EU.

Before the election can be held, May must first win the support of two-thirds of the UK parliament in a vote on Wednesday.

The opposition Labour Party says it will vote in favour of a new election, meaning May should be able to get her plan through.

This is a surprise?

Yes. Many people have been caught unawares by Theresa May’s decision.

She has said she does not want to be distracted by time-consuming campaigning. However, opinion polls have given her a strong lead.

May is hoping the election will boost her slim majority in parliament and give her a new mandate to put her stamp on domestic reforms in education and health.

She will also be hoping to strengthen her hand in talks with the EU, which will start in earnest in June.

What Theresa May said

“It was with reluctance that I decided the country needs this election, but it is with strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond,” May said.

“Every vote for the Conservatives will make it harder for opposition politicians who want to stop me from getting the job done.”

“The decision facing the country will be all about leadership.”

“It will be a choice between strong and stable leadership in the national interest with me as your prime minister, or weak and unstable coalition government led by Jeremy Corbyn, propped up by the Liberal Democrats who want to reopen the division of the referendum.”

Why is she doing this?

Analysts say May is capitalising on her runaway lead in the opinion polls.

The Conservative Party is around 20 points ahead of the main opposition Labour Party. This is a large lead for an incumbent party two years after the last parlimentary election.

The prime minister’s own personal ratings also dwarf those of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. Research suggests 50 percent of people asked think she would make the best prime minister, compared to only 14 percent for Jeremy Corbyn.

But before holding the election, May must first win the support of two-thirds of the parliament in a vote on Wednesday. Labour said it will vote in favour of a new election, meaning she should be able to get it through.

Voting intentions

The business

Immediately after the announcement, the pound strengthened against the dollar and 10-year British government bond yields rose slightly. Share indexes fell.

Europe’s Year of Elections

The UK joins a list of western European countries scheduled to hold elections this year.

Votes in France in April and May and Germany in September have the potential to reshape the political landscape around the two years of Brexit talks with the EU.

These are expected to start sometime in June.

What they are saying

Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn says he “welcomes the PM’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first”.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has given his reaction to news of the election.

“We welcome the opportunity to take UKIP’s positive message to the country,” says UKIP leader Paul Nuttall.

“This announcement is one of the most extraordinary u-turns in recent political history” says Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who suggested that Theresa May is trying to force a “hard Brexit” by calling for an early election.

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