Prime Minister Theresa May has called for a general election on Thursday June 8, 2017.
Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party (SNP) all welcomed the announcement, making it all but certain to be approved by Parliament on Wednesday. Under the Fixed-term Parliament Act, a prime minister can only bring forward an election if two-thirds of MPs vote in favour.
Labour enters the election period on a historic low. A Guardian/ICM poll published this morning – the first published since May’s announcement – puts the Conservatives 18 points ahead of Labour. This would give the Conservatives a majority of 126.
View the ICM polling data here.
The Press Association is reporting the average Conservative lead is 17 points and that no other Conservative government in modern times has been this far ahead of the main opposition party 51 days from a general election. Pollsters believe this means the election is a foregone conclusion.
May has repeatedly said she did not want a general election before 2020. She has justified her U-turn by saying the opposition parties are trying to stop #brexit:
“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.
“If we do not 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.
“Division in Westminster will risk 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, because 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.”
The date proposed, June 8, would see the UK elections take place after the French elections conclude in May, but before the German elections in September. EU leaders, minus the UK, are expected to agree the #brexit negotiating guidelines at a summit on April 29.
The pound strengthened to a four-month high on the news.
You can read the full text of Theresa May’s speech here.