GENERAL

Theresa May calls for a general election

Prime Minister Theresa May has called for a snap general election on 8 June.

She said Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership following the EU referendum.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has announced plans to call a snap general election on 8 June.

She said Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership following the EU referendum.

Explaining the decision, Mrs May said: “The country is coming together but Westminster is not.”

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party wanted the election, calling it a chance to get a government that puts “the majority first”.

The prime minister will refuse to take part in televised leader debates ahead of the vote, Number 10 sources said.

Mr Corbyn said Mrs May should not be “dodging” a head-to-head encounter, and the Lib Dems urged broadcasters to “empty-chair” the prime minister – hold a debate without her.

Live TV debates took place for the first time in a UK general election in 2010, and the experiment was repeated in 2015 using a range of different formats.

A BBC spokesman said that it was too early to say whether the broadcaster would put in a bid to stage a debate.

There will be a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday to approve the election plan – the prime minister needs two thirds of MPs to vote in favour to bring forward the next scheduled election date of 2020.

Explaining her change of heart on an early election, Mrs May said: “I have concluded the only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead is to hold this election.”

She accused Britain’s other political parties of “game playing”, adding that this risks “our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country”.

“So we need a general election and we need one now. We have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin.

“I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion. Since I became prime minister I’ve said there should be no election until 2020, but now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and security for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions we must take.”

In a statement outside Number 10, Mrs May said Labour had threatened to vote against the final Brexit agreement and cited opposition to her plans from the Scottish National Party, the Lib Dems and “unelected” members of the House of Lords.

“If we don’t 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,” she said.


Analysis: By BBC Political Editor Laura Kuenssberg

For months Theresa May and her team have played down the prospect of an early poll. The reasons were simple. They didn’t want to cause instability during Brexit negotiations. They didn’t want to go through the technical process of getting round the Fixed Term Parliaments Act.

They didn’t want the unpredictability of an election race. And many in the Conservative Party believed there is so little chance of the Labour Party getting its act together before 2020 that they could carry on until then and still expect a sizeable majority.

There was also, for Theresa May, the desire to show that she will be a prime minister who sticks to her word. But the relentless political logic proved too tempting to hold to all of that.


The PM challenged the opposition parties: “Let us tomorrow vote for an election – let us put forward our plans for Brexit and our alternative programmes for government and then let the people decide.

“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 divisions of the referendum – and Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.”

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