UK Prime Minister Theresa May has called for a snap election to be held in June, three years ahead of schedule. Standing on the steps of No. 10 Downing Street where she made the announcement the prime minister accused the opposition of attempting to block her efforts to negotiate Brexit, offering this as her reason for calling for a general election.
“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,” May said.
“In recent weeks Labour has threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach 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 formally 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. Our opponents believe because the government’s majority is so small, that our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course. They are wrong,” she added.
The surprise announcement marks a U-turn in the prime minister’s position having previously ruled out another election until 2020. At 44%, the Latest polls show May’s Conservative party with a huge lead over Labour and the liberal democrats who stand at 23% and 12% respectively. It is thought that May’s decision to change direction and call for a vote was motivated by the favourable poll numbers, in the hope that her party can win a solid majority in parliament and strengthen the government’s position during the upcoming Brexit negotiations.
Reacting to the announcement, leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn said, “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. 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.”
Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats 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.”
Theresa May will put forward a motion in the House of Commons calling for the general election to take place on 8 June. The motion needs to be passed by a two-thirds majority of MPs, after which the general election campaign will formally begin.