British Prime Minister Theresa May announces snap general election

Theresa May

Prime Minister Theresa May has called for an early general election to be held on June 8 to seek a strong mandate as she negotiates Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Standing outside 10 Downing Street, Ms May said she would ask the House of Commons on Wednesday to back her call for an election, three years before the next scheduled date in May 2020.

Ms May said that since Britons voted to leave the EU in June the country had come together, but politicians had not.

She said the political divisions “risk our ability to make a success of Brexit”.

At present, Ms May’s governing Conservatives have 330 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons.

Ms May said that “our opponents believe that because the Government’s majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course” on leaving the EU.

“They are wrong,” she said.

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“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.”

Under Britain’s Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, elections are held every five years, but the prime minister can call a snap election if two-thirds of lawmakers vote for it.

The leader of the main opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, has previously said he would back such a call.

Ms May took office in July after her predecessor David Cameron stepped down following his failed attempt to get voters to back remaining in the EU.

Since then she has ruled out calling an early election to get her own mandate. But she said on Tuesday she had “reluctantly” changed her mind.

“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,” she said.

Polls gave Ms May’s Conservatives a double-digit lead on Labour, which is divided under left-wing leader Mr Corbyn.

The pound rose 0.1 per cent against the US dollar after the announcement to 1.257, recovering from a 0.4 per cent drop an hour earlier.

AP/Reuters

This post originally appeared on ABC News.


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