- Theresa May calls for a snap election to take place on June 8.
- If MPs give their approval then Brits will go the polls in just six weeks time.
- May said Conservative victory will ‘guarantee certainty and stability’ as Britain prepares for Brexit.
- Prime minister rules out pre-election TV debates.
LONDON — Prime Minister Theresa May has called for an early general election.
Speaking from the steps of 10 Downing Street on Tuesday morning, May announced that an election will take place in just six weeks’ time on June 8, saying it is in “the national interest” to do so.
The prime minister added that she would put a motion to parliament on Wednesday calling on MPs to vote in favour of a snap election.
May said an election victory for the Conservatives would “guarantee certainty and stability for the years” and give her the public support to deliver her policies, including Britain’s imminent departure from the European Union.
A YouGov opinion poll published on Sunday gave the Tories a 21% lead over Labour among respondents. Labour led the Conservatives by 13% at this stage in the last electoral cycle — but went on to lose the subsequent election.
Speaking outside 10 Downing Street, May said: “At this moment of enormous national significance, they should be unity in Westminster, but instead there is division.
“In recent weeks Labour have threatened to vote against the final agreement we reached with the European Union.
“The Liberal Democrats have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill.
“The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formerly repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union and unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way.”
She added: “They underestimate our determination to get the job done. And I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country Because what they are doing jeopardises the work we must do to prepare for Brexit at home.
“And it weakens the government’s negotiating position in Europe. If we do not hold a general election now, their political game playing will continue.
“And the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election. So we need a general election and we need it now.”
The prime minister added, though, that she had “only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion.”
May had repeatedly ruled out calling a snap election prior to Tuesday’s announcement. The next election was initially scheduled to take place in 2020 after Britain has formally left the European Union.
The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act requires a general election to take place on the first Thursday in May every five years.
However, May would have the approval to call a snap election if two-thirds of MPs in the Commons voted for it.
A spokesperson for the prime minister indicated on Monday afternoon that she would not be taken part in any televised debates prior to the election. “Our answer is no,” her office said.
Jeremy Corbyn responds
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed May’s decision to hold an early election, having indicated in previous interviews that he would instruct Labour MPs to vote in favour of a snap election.
“I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first,” Corbyn said in a statement.
“Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to our schools and NHS.
“In the last couple of weeks, Labour has set out policies that offer a clear and credible choice for the country. We look forward to showing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain.”
The Labour Party’s National Executive Committee will hold an emergency meeting in the coming days to decide who will stand as candidates, a Labour source told Business Insider.
Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland Tom Blenkinsop announced that he would not be standing for re-election amid concern of electoral wipeout for the party.
Lib Dems want to avoid ‘disastrous Hard Brexit’
Responding to May’s plan, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron called on the British public to use the election as a means of preventing a hard Brexit. Farron said: “This election is your chance to change the direction of our country.
“If you want to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit. If you want to keep Britain in the Single Market. If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance.
“Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority.”
UKIP leader Paul Nuttall tweeted: “Every vote for @UKIP in this General Election will be a reminder to the PM that the British people want a clean Brexit with restored borders.”
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