Theresa May has said she wants to hold a snap general election on 8 June, despite repeatedly claiming that she was against the idea of an early vote.
In a surprise statement outside Downing Street on minutes ago, the prime minister Theresa May has said she wants to hold a snap general election on 8th June, in a U-turn previously claiming she was against it.
“We need a general election and we need one now…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.”
“After the country voted to leave the EU, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership. Since I became prime minister the government has delivered precisely that,” she said, adding that other parties in Westminster had opposed her efforts.
“The country is coming together but Westminster is not. Labour have threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach. The Lib Dems have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill. Unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way.”
Under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, the prime minister cannot call an election by herself, but requires a motion in the House of Commons requiring two thirds of MPs to back it.
Labour party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn, who has been vocal in trying to spread a raft of Labour’s new policies for a future government despite very little mainstream media coverage, said he welcomed the decision, suggesting his MPs will back the Commons’ motion.
“I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first.
“Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to our schools and NHS.
“In the last couple of weeks, Labour has set out policies that offer a clear and credible choice for the country. We look forward to showing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain.”
The Liberal Democrats have been calling for a snap election to be a de facto second referendum, on the nature of Brexit. Their leader, Tim Farron said:
“This election is your chance to change the direction of our country. If you want to avoid a disastrous hard Brexit, if you want to keep Britain in the single market, if you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance. Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority.”
The Lib Dems have reportedly been preparing for a snap general election since before the referendum, with 300 candidates selected and many in place for over a year, particularly in the south-west. Tim Farron is expected to make a speech about the election later on today whilst in Cornwall – a key battleground seat.
Catherine West, MP for Hornsey and Wood Green and shadow foreign office minister, said: “I welcome the opportunity to highlight the gross failings of the Conservative government since 2015 and their Lib Dem partners in their first term.
“The country has been badly let down by the ruthless and ideological decisions made by the government across the NHS, social care, education and the economy.”
She said that she voted not to trigger article 50 but wanted Labour to hold the government to account on Brexit through the campaign to ensure environmental protection, economic security and workers’ rights.