British Prime Minister Theresa May called the June 8 snap election saying divisions in parliament could hold back the country’s Brexit negotiations.
She said: “At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division. The country is coming together, but Westminster is not.”
So, where do the key political parties stand on the key issue: Brexit?
Conservatives – 330 seats in the current parliament
Conservative MPs were given the freedom to campaign on either side of the EU referendum last year, although most were in favour of staying in the EU.
Former prime minister David Cameron argued for Remain and resigned from his position following the result.
High profile Leave campaigners included the current Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and David Davis, now the Brexit secretary.
May campaigned for Remain, but not as fiercely as some other senior colleagues. Since becoming Prime Minister, she coined the phrase “Brexit means Brexit” and on announcing the snap election, said her government wants to “get the job done”.
Barring a handful of exceptions, the Conservative Party is now behind Brexit.
Labour – 229 seats
The majority of Labour MPs voted to remain in the EU, but following the country’s decision to leave, leader Jeremy Corbyn said he respects the referendum result, a position taken by many MPs.
Many of Labour’s seats represent areas that backed Brexit, meaning the party’s constituents disagree with their MPs on the issue.
Corbyn and his party are performing badly in polls and the leader has struggled to galvanise support from his MPs.
Despite this, Corbyn welcomed May’s announcement.
I welcome 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 pic.twitter.com/9P3X6A2Zpw— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) April 18, 2017
Labour’s dwindling support and perceived lack of clarity over issues such as Brexit could be a key reason for the timing of May’s snap election.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) – 54 seats
The SNP holds the vast majority of Scottish seats in the House of Commons – 54 out of 59 – and its leader Nicola Sturgeon has recently called for a second independence referendum.
Scotland voted decisively in favour of staying in the EU on June 23, with 62% for Remain, but the United Kingdom narrowly voted to leave as a whole.
The SNP has continued to fight against the government’s proposed “hard Brexit” and the General Election on June 8 could prove decisive in the future of Scotland.
The SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson tweeted: “Straight choice in Scotland between the SNP and Tories.”
Sturgeon, who is Scotland’s First Minister, said Scotland needs to be “protected” from the Conservatives who have “no mandate” against “a hard Brexit” and “deeper cuts”.
The Tories see a chance to move the UK to the right, force through a hard Brexit and impose deeper cuts. Let's stand up for Scotland. #GE17— Nicola Sturgeon (@NicolaSturgeon) April 18, 2017
Liberal Democrats – 9 seats
The Liberal Democrats say they are the only party to have “consistently championed Britain’s membership of the European Union”, and repeatedly called for a second referendum on the final Brexit deal.
Leader Tim Farron told supporters the June 8 election is “your chance to change the direction of our country” to “avoid a disastrous hard Brexit”.
He said: “Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority.”
This is your chance to change the direction of your country pic.twitter.com/wfj4wC7yn3— Tim Farron (@timfarron) April 18, 2017
The UK Independence Party – 0 seats
Ukip currently have no seats in the House of Commons, but the party played a key role in the EU referendum on June 23.
Former leader Nigel Farage has been one of the most prominent anti-EU campaigners in recent years, and Ukip’s primary objective was to take Britain out of Europe.
Now that has happened, new party leader Paul Nuttall urged Leave voters to choose Ukip in the General Election on June 8.
Every vote for— Paul Nuttall (paulnuttallukip) April 18, 2017
UKIPin this General Election will be a reminder to the PM that the British people want a clean Brexit with restored borders
He said: “We are in the midst of Brexit negotiations so this election will provide a perfect opportunity for the 52% to vote for Ukip – the only party wholeheartedly committed to a clean, quick and efficient Brexit.”