LONDON: UK Prime Minister Teresa May shocked the world in a surprise move when she called for an early General Election on Tuesday. Mrs. May has received overwhelming parliamentary backing after MPs voted 522 to 13 in favour and more than the required two-thirds majority. The general election which had been scheduled for 2020 will now be held on June 8th 2017 instead.
The decision to call for a snap election is seen as a response to opposition parties and the House of Lords who have continued to stymie the government’s Brexit agenda. She said they underestimated the government because of the small majority it held.
“They underestimate our determination to get the jo done and I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country.
“If we do not hold a general election now their political fame-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.”
Prime Minister May has argued that she needs a fresh mandate through elections that would strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations with the European Union and provide certainty for UK’s future.
Defending the decision, she told MPs during a parliamentary session that there was a “window of opportunity” to hold elections before Brexit talks began in June and that the country needed “strong leadership” to for the process to succeed.
Mrs. May who became British Prime Minister in July 2016 after the EU Referendum told MPs, “I believe that at this moment of enormous national significance, there should be unity here in Westminster not division.
“That’s why it is the right thing and responsible thing for all of us here today to vote for a general election.”
The PM believes an election is good for Britain in order to provide “5 years of stability and certainty” and to prepare the country for life post-EU era.
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbin welcomed the move but accused the PM of political opportunism. The SNP leader argued Mrs. May could not be trusted after changing her mind and breaking her promise on many issues. He abstained on Wednesday’s crucial vote.
Other opposition MPs opposed to the move and who voted against it are SDLP’s Alasdair McDonnell, 3 Independents and 9 Labour MPs.
Mrs. May is said to have discussed her plans for an early election with The Queen by telephone. Although Parliament will be officially dissolved by Her Majesty on May 3, campaigning is already under way. The PM who is yet to have her first campaign stop is hoping to significantly boost her current Commons majority of 17 to increase her authority ahead of the Brexit talks which will determine the terms and manner of UK’s exit from the EU.
The deadline for nominations is 11 May.