UK Prime minister May has called for general election on 8th June 2017
May said Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership following the EU referendum.
Explaining the decision, Mrs May said: “The country is coming together but Westminster is not.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party wanted the election, calling it a chance to get a
government that puts “the majority first”.
The prime minister will refuse to take part in televised leader debates ahead of the vote, Number
10 sources said.
Mr Corbyn said Mrs May should not be “dodging” a head-to-head encounter, and the Lib Dems
urged broadcasters to “empty-chair” the prime minister – hold a debate without her.
Live TV debates took place for the first time in a UK general election in 2010, and the experiment
was repeated in 2015 using a range of different formats.
A BBC spokesman said that it was too early to say whether the broadcaster would put in a bid to
stage a debate.
There will be a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday to approve the election plan – the
prime minister needs two thirds of MPs to vote in favour to bring forward the next scheduled
election date of 2020.
Explaining her change of heart on an early election, Mrs May said: “I have concluded the only
way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead is to hold this election.”
She accused Britain’s other political parties of “game playing”, adding that this risks “our ability
to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country”.
“So we need a general election and we need one now. We have at this moment a one-off chance
to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed
Media caption Jeremy Corbyn: “I want to lead a government that will transform this country”
“I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion. Since I became prime minister I’ve
said there should be no election until 2020, but now I have concluded that the only way to
guarantee certainty and security for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support
for the decisions we must take.”
In a statement outside Number 10, Mrs May said Labour had threatened to vote against the final
Brexit agreement and cited opposition to her plans from the Scottish National Party, the Lib
Dems and “unelected” members of the House of Lords.
“If we don’t hold a general election now, their political game-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,” she said.
For months Theresa May and her team have played down the prospect of an early poll. The
reasons were simple. They didn’t want to cause instability during Brexit negotiations. They
didn’t want to go through the technical process of getting round the Fixed Term Parliaments
They didn’t want the unpredictability of an election race. And many in the Conservative Party
believed there is so little chance of the Labour Party getting its act together before 2020 that
they could carry on until then and still expect a sizeable majority.
There was also, for Theresa May, the desire to show that she will be a prime minister who sticks
to her word. But the relentless political logic proved too tempting to hold to all of that
The PM challenged the opposition parties: “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
“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 weak and
unstable coalition government, led by Jeremy Corbyn, propped up by the Liberal Democrats –
who want to reopen the divisions of the referendum – and Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.”
Mr Corbyn said he welcomed the prime minister’s decision, saying it would “give the British
people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first”,
saying that this would include dealing with “the crisis” in housing, education funding and
the NHS and pushing for an “economy that works for all”.
He told the BBC: “I’m starting straight away and I’m looking forward to it and we’ll take
our message to every single part of this country… We’re campaigning to win this election –
that’s the only question now.”
Asked if he will be the next prime minister, the Labour leader said: “If we win the election
– yes – and I want to lead a government that will transform this country, give real hope to
everybody and above all bring about a principle of justice for everybody and economic
opportunities for everybody.”
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she would be fighting the election “to win”.
“I think the prime minister has called this election for selfish, narrow, party political interests,
but she has called it and therefore I relish the prospect of getting out to stand up for Scotland’s
interests and values, standing up for Scotland’s voice being heard and standing against the
ability of a right wing Conservative Party to impose whatever policies it wants on Scotland.”
Media caption Lib Dem leader Tim Farron says the 8 June election presents a fantastic opportunity
In his response to Mrs May’s announcement, Lib Dem leader Tim Farron tweeted: “This is you
r chance to change the direction of your 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.”
He also accused the PM of “bottling” the TV debates and urged broadcasters to “empty chair”
her if she refused to take part.