May's shock election

British Prime Minister Theresa May has stunned the UK political world by calling for an early general election, seeking a stronger mandate in talks over leaving the European Union.In an unexpected statement at Downing Street, May said she was seeking a vote on June 8, less than halfway through the government's five-year term.

May, who commands only a slim majority in parliament's lower House of Commons, said that a new mandate would strengthen her hand in negotiations in Brexit talks.
Her decision is a reversal of policy -- since taking over as Prime Minister, May had repeatedly ruled out an early election.
A general election would end the attempts of opposition parties and members of the House of Lords to thwart her Brexit plans, she said. "If we do not hold a general election now, their political game playing will continue," she told reporters at Downing Street.
"There should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division. The country is coming together, but Westminster is not," she added. "We need a general election and we need one now."

Key developments

  • MPs must approve decision to dissolve Parliament part-way through full term.
  • Vote will be held in Parliament on Wednesday.
  • May had full support of Cabinet and had spoken to the Queen
  • Opposition parties say they will not block move to hold election on June 8.
  • Theresa May likely to substantially increase her slim majority.