UK prime minister defends decision to seek snap election
- Author: Todd Kelly Apr 20, 2017,
Apr 20, 2017, 0:42
British voters will be heading to polling stations for the third time since 2015, after lawmakers overwhelmingly backed Prime Minister Theresa May's call for a snap election on June 8. A total of 522 MPs voted in favour of the motion vote on Wednesday afternoon. A landslide for the Tories could see them wrestle up to 56 seats away from the opposition, thus giving the Conservatives total control of the House of Commons.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has welcomed Theresa May's decision to call a snap election, saying his party would offer an "effective alternative" to the Tories.
"What do we know that the leader of the Labour Party, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and the leader of the Scottish nationalists have in common?" she asked parliament.
In a preview of her election strategy, Mrs May said: "I will be taking out to the country in this campaign a proud record of a Conservative government".
"We welcome the opportunity of a general election because it gives the British people the opportunity to vote for a Labour government that will put the interests of the majority first", as he attacked government policy on health, education and welfare.
She changed her mind last week - on a walking holiday with her husband - after "reluctantly" coming to the conclusion that "game-playing" over Brexit among politicians back home would make negotiating with European Union leaders much harder.
"Following their conversation, the president considers that the real political negotiations on Article 50 with the United Kingdom will start after the elections foreseen for the 8th of June", the spokesman said, referring to the European Union treaty rule that regulates the exit of a member state from the bloc.
Having ruled out an early election, May is now gambling on winning a bigger majority that could help her push through a divorce deal with Brussels by 2019 despite divisions within Britain, and in her own party. "It's about. getting the right deal from Europe".
The Prime Minister said she was committed to regaining control of Britain's borders but refused to be drawn on whether free movement of labour would end as soon as the United Kingdom withdrew from the EU.
Parliament is expected to be dissolved on May 3, as British law mandates the dissolution must happen 25 working days before a general election.
Labour has already said it supports an early election.
The position was confirmed by the party's leader at Westminster, Angus Robertson. Conservatives now have a marginal lead of 17 seats, but many pollsters are confident that the number could rise significantly on June 8. Even if the election campaign transforms this contest into the "Brexit election", there is no reason to expect this to damage the Conservative Party. Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May has called for an early general election for June 8 to seek a strong mandate as she negotiates Britain.
A victory would give Ms May a powerful mandate extending until 2022, long enough to cover the Brexit negotiations plus a possible transition period into new trading arrangements with the European Union - a prospect that has strengthened the pound. But May could still claim that a big parliamentary majority amounts to an endorsement of her pursuit of a "hard Brexit".
It had been hoped talks could start by the end of that month, but EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Wednesday that "the real political negotiations" with Britain would not start till after the June 8 election.
"If we do not hold a general election now, their political game playing will continue", she told reporters at Downing Street.
There have been calls for TV broadcasters to "empty chair" Mrs May in election-time leaders' debates if she refuses to take part.