BRITISH Prime Minister Theresa May called on Tuesday for an early election on June 8, saying it was the only way to guarantee political stability for years ahead as Britain negotiates its way out of the European Union.
‘I have just chaired a meeting of the cabinet where we agreed that the government should call a General Election to be held on the 8th of June,’ May said in a surprise statement outside her Downing Street office.
‘It was with reluctance that I decided the country needs this election, but it is with strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.’
She said she would introduce legislation on Wednesday to pave the way for the early election. Under current legislation, the next election was not scheduled to take place until 2020.
May’s Conservatives, who were split on the issue of European Union membership ahead of last year’s referendum, are currently far ahead of Labour, the main opposition party, according to opinion polls.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron released a statement – ‘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.’
As did Green party co-leader Caroline Lucas – ‘Britain is at a crossroads – and today’s announcement means that people are rightly given a say over the direction this country is going to take. Only the Green party offers a bold, positive vision for a different kind of Britain. At this election, we will stand for an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few; a Britain that’s open to the world and the protection of our precious environment. We will stand up to the politics of hatred and division that is scarring our communities and give people across the country a chance to vote for a better Britain.’
Along with Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour party – ‘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.’
May said this was a one-off chance to get an election done while the EU was agreeing on its negotiating position.
She said the government had the right plan to negotiate Brexit and there would be no change of course.
The pound strengthened by almost half a cent against the dollar as May spoke, reflecting investor relief that earlier rumours of a shock resignation did not transpire. Ten-year British government bond yields also rose slightly.