UK Prime Minister Theresa May calls for general election on June 8

Standing outside her Downing Street office, May said she had been reluctant about asking parliament to back her move to bring forward the election from 2020, but decided it was necessary to win support for her ruling Conservative Party's efforts to press ahead with Britain's departure from the EU. Here's a brief look at what happens now, and what's at stake.

Scotland overwhelmingly voted to stay in the European Union, and the SNP has demanded a fresh referendum on Scottish independence from Britain. Another reason given was that she didn't want to cause instability amidst Brexit negotiations.

Her decision is a reversal of policy - since taking over as Prime Minister, May had repeatedly ruled out an early election. "I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion but now I have concluded it is the only way to guarantee certainty for the years ahead". As one would expect, "What party is Theresa May from?", "Why has Theresa May called a general election?" and "How can Theresa May call an election?" make the list.

This election will decide the 650 MPs who will sit in the House of Commons and vote on laws about Brexit, the economy, health, education, and other important issues. They want tougher negotiation talks and they feel the government is being too friendly with the EU.

There will be a Commons vote on the proposed election on Wednesday - opposition Labour Party has said it will vote with the government, reported BBC.

The bid failed, with French voters rejecting the right and electing the Socialists to a majority in the National Assembly, forcing Chirac to appoint Socialist leader Lionel Jospin as prime minister.

Elections are always unpredictable, but bookmakers consider May's Conservative Party a strong favorite to win. Opinion polls released last weekend showed the Conservatives with a double-digit lead over the opposition Labour Party, which has been weakened by a split between moderates and left-wing leader Corbyn.

According to Google Trends, one of the U.K.'s most-searched questions following May's shock announcement has been "When was the last general election?", which is a pretty understandable question when you consider that it has been less than two years (712 days to be precise) since the country last endured a national vote for Prime Minister, whose term is ordinarily five years.

May wants to establish a fundamental political cleavage in British society between pro and anti-Brexit forces.

International Monetary Fund chief economist Maurice Obstfeld told reporters in Washington that the snap election might create greater short-run uncertainty, but could give greater clarity afterwards about what the British people wanted to achieve from Brexit talks.

Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership following the European Union referendum, she said.

Conservative party sources suggest May wanted to shut down speculation about her participation early on.

It was "all the more important", she said, "that Scotland is protected from a Tory (Conservative) Party which now sees the chance of grabbing control of government for many years to come and moving the United Kingdom further to the right - forcing through a hard Brexit and imposing deeper cuts in the process".

  • Elsie Buchanan