UK: May calls for snap election on June 8

Prime Minister says opposition is weakening government’s negotiation position with EU

Image Credit: AFP
British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to the media outside 10 Downing Street in central London on April 18, 2017.
Gulf News

London: British Prime Minister Theresa May called for an early general election on June 8 in a surprise announcement on Tuesday as Britain prepares for delicate negotiations on leaving the European Union.

"We need a general election and we need one now. We have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done... before the detailed talks begin," May said.

The Latest: Scottish leader: May looking to move UK to right

UPDATES

Here's the latest on the announcement that Prime Minister Theresa May is seeking to call a general election on June 8 (all times local, Dubai is 3 hours ahead of London):

12:15 pm

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon says Prime Minister Theresa May's call for an early general election reflects her desire to move Britain to the right of the political spectrum as the country negotiates its exit from the European Union.

Urging voters to "stand up for Scotland," Sturgeon said in a tweet that May's Conservative Party see "a chance to move the U.K. to the right, force through a hard Brexit, and impose deeper cuts."

Sturgeon also said in a statement that Scotland must be "protected" from a Conservative Party trying to seize control of government for many years to come.

 

12 pm

The British pound has risen strongly after Prime Minister Theresa May called for an early general election in June.

The British currency, which had weakened before the announcement, was up by more than a cent against the dollar. By midday trading in London, it was trading 0.7 percent higher at $1.2658.

May is seeking a stronger mandate as she negotiates Britain's exit from the European Union. She is hoping to win a stronger position in the House of Commons, where her Conservative Party has a small majority.

Analysts at ETX Capital say in a note to clients that the election call "adds another layer of complexity to an already uncertain picture for U.K. and European assets."

They say that a government with a stronger mandate could get a better deal for the U.K. However, it could also push through a more aggressive version of Brexit that cuts off business more from the EU's single market.

 

11:50 am

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour Party, says he is backing Prime Minister Theresa May's decision to call an early general election for June 8 - a decision that will ensure the vote takes place.

In a statement Tuesday soon after May made her surprise announcement, Corbyn said he welcomes the decision to "give the British people the chance to vote."

The decision is important because it suggests May will have little trouble securing enough votes to overturn the Fixed Parliaments Act, which set the date for the next election for 2020. Labour is the main opposition party in parliament.

Corbyn, whose party is trailing May's Conservatives in opinion polls, said: "We look forward to showing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain."

 

11:20 am

Prime Minister Theresa May has accused her opponents of "political game-playing" and undermining the country in the upcoming talks to exit the European Union.

May said Tuesday that the divisions in Parliament explained her change of heart on an early election. Since becoming prime minister last July in the aftermath of Britain's vote to leave the EU, May had consistently said she would not seek an early election.

May said she has concluded that the "only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead is to hold this election."

Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, the next general election date was to be in 2020. But an early election can take place if two-thirds of lawmakers in the House of Commons vote for it. The opposition Labour Party, which trails May's Conservative Party in opinion polls, has said it supports such a move.

 

11:15 am

Prime Minister Theresa May has said she is planning to call a general election for Thursday, June 8.

In a surprise statement in Downing Street, May said Parliament will be asked to vote for the election on Wednesday.

May's Conservative Party is way ahead of the main opposition Labour Party in opinion polls. A resounding win would bolster her mandate in upcoming talks with the European Union over the country's exit.

She said "division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit."

 

10:45 am

The British pound has fallen amid mounting speculation that Prime Minister Theresa May is planning to call an early general election.

In the wake of an announcement that May will make an unexpected statement in Downing Street at 11:15 a.m. (1015GMT), the pound was down 0.3 percent at $1.2525.

May's office says she will speak after the weekly meeting of her Cabinet.

FXTM Vice President of Market Research, Jameel Ahmad says that "truth be told, nobody is really that aware of what is going on but this uncertainty has caused a reaction."

 

10:30 am

British Prime Minister Theresa May is due to make an unexpected statement in Downing Street, triggering speculation that she plans to call an early election.

May's office says she will speak at 11:15 am (1015GMT) Tuesday, after the weekly meeting of her Cabinet.

Such statements are generally reserved for major news, such as resignations and election calls.

May, who took office in July after predecessor David Cameron stepped down, could be tempted to go to the polls to secure her own mandate as she negotiates Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.

But she has previously said she will stay in office until the next scheduled national election, in 2020.

Under Britain's Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, the prime minister can call an election if two-thirds of lawmakers vote for it.

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