British Prime Minister Theresa May has called for a snap General Election in June in a move that has shocked Britain’s political establishment and taken observers by surprise.
In a speech outside 10 Downing Street Tuesday morning, Mrs May said she decided to call the election to strengthen her hand in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations with the European Union.
“Since I became Prime Minister, I said there would be no election until 2020,” she said. “But now, I concluded the only way to guarantee stability and certainty in the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for decisions we take.”
She also blamed the intransigence of opposition parties for her decision, adding: “What they are doing jeopardises what we must to do prepare for Brexit at home. And it weakens the Government’s negotiating position in Europe.
“If we do not hold a General Election now, their political game play continues and negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run up to the next scheduled General Election.”
She will go to MPs tomorrow to ask for permission to call the early election. Under the Fix Term Parliaments Act, she needs a two-thirds majority to call the election, but the opposition Labour Party has said it will support the motion, meaning the election is highly likely to happen on Thursday 8 June.
Addressing journalists, the Prime Minister said:
I have just chaired a meeting of the cabinet where we agreed to hold a general election on the 8th June. I want to explain what will happen next and the choice facing the British people when you come to vote in this election.
Last summer, after the people voted to leave the European Union, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership.
Since I became Prime Minister, the Government has delivered precisely that.
Despite predictions of immediate economic danger since the refrendum, we have seen consumer confidence remain high, record numbers of jobs, and economic growth exceed expectations.
We also delivered on the mandate of the referendum result. Britain is leaving the European Union and there can be no turning back.
And as we look to the future, the Government has the right plan to negotiate the new relationship with the European Union.
We want a deep and special partnership between a strong and successful European Union and a United Kingdom that is free to chart its own way in the world.
That means we will regain control of our own money, our own laws, and our borders and we will be free to strike new trade deals with old friends and new partners all around the world.
This is the right approach and it is in the national interest. But the other political parties oppose it. At this moment of national significance there should be unity in Westminster but instead there is division. The country is coming together but we not.
In recent weeks, labour has threatened to vote against the final agreement with the European Union. The Liberal Democrats want to grind the business of Government to a standstill.
The Scottish Nationalist Party say they will vote against the legislation that will repeal the formal relations with the European Union. And unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight up every step of the way.
Our opponents believe, because our majority is so small, that our resolve will weaken and they can force us to change course. They are wrong. They underestimate our determination to get the job done and I am not prepared to let them endanger the stability of people across the country.
What they are doing jeopardises what we must to do prepare for Brexit at home. And it weakens the Government’s negotiating position in Europe.
If we do not hold a General Election now, their poltical game play continues and negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run up to the next scheduled General Election.
Divisions will risk the stability of Brexit and it will cause damage, uncertainty and instability in the country.
So we need a General Election and we need one now because we have a one-off chance while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin.
I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion.
Since I became Prime Minister, I said there would be no election until 2020. But now, I concluded the only way to guarantee stability and certainty in the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for decisions we take.
So tomorrow in the House of Commons I will call for an election on the 8th of June. That motion as set out by the Fixed-Term Parliament Act will require a two thirds majority of the House of Commons.
So I have a simple challenge for the opposition parties : you have criticised the Government, you have challenged our objectives, you have threatened to block the legislation put before Parliament. This is your moment to show you mean it. To show you are not opposing the Government for the sake of it. To show you do not treat politics as a game. Let us tomorrow vote for an election. Let us put forward our plans for Brexit and our alternative programmes for Government and then let the people decide.
And the decision facing the country will be all about leadership. It will be a choice between strong and stable leadership in the national interest with me as your Prime Minister, or a weak and unstable coalition with Jeremy Corbyn propped up by the Liberal Democrats who want to reopen the divisions of the referendum and Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.
Every vote for the Conservatives will make it harder for the opposition who want to stop me from getting the job done. Every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger when I negotiate with the prime ministers, presidents, and chancellors of the European Union. Every vote for the Conservatives will mean we can stick to our plan for a stronger Britain and a more secure future.
It was with reluctance that I decided the country needed this election, but it is with strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the strength and stability this country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond. So tomorrow let the House of Commons vote for an election. Let us remove the uncertainty and instability and continue to give the country the strong and stable leadership it demands.