Campaign begins as UK MPs vote for early election

Owen Stevens
April 21, 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday an early election would strengthen her at the "most crucial point" in Britain's divorce talks with the European Union, as she prepared to ask parliament to approve a vote in just seven weeks' time.

Under current legislation, parliaments have to sit for five years before new elections take place.

"It's the right decision, it's in the national interest, and that's what this election is about".

With the Labour party's core voters split on the issue of Brexit, Corbyn's team are hoping to push the election debate onto more amenable territory, including health, living standards and education. The mid-term election has already been dubbed a "Brexit election".

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said: "We welcome the general election but this is a Prime Minister who promised there wouldn't be one, a Prime Minister who can not be trusted".

She said a general election will provide Britain with five years of strong and stable leadership to see the country through its negotiations with the European Union to make sure "we are able to make a success of the European Union referendum result".

May's Conservative Party, which is firmly pro-Brexit, holds a bare majority of 17 seats in Parliament, but most polls show conservatives with a double-digit lead over the opposing Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn.

All sides are now gearing up for the fourth major election in four years, after last June's shock referendum vote for Brexit, the 2015 general election, and the 2014 Scottish independence vote.

"With a bigger majority she can afford more defections", Ford said, adding: "It would give May more freedom to compromise".

"The Conservatives will use all the divide-and-rule tricks of the Lynton Crosby trade to protect the wealth extractors' rigged system", the Labour leader is expected to say.

Critics of an early election accuse May of taking advantage of low ratings for the main opposition Labour Party.

United Kingdom commentators say the relentless political logic of an early election, that the Conservatives are expected to win well, has proved too tempting.

In her speech on Tuesday at the door of 10 Downing Street, May made it clear why she wanted an early election.

She said: "At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity in Westminster, but instead there is division". We can't win, they say, because we don't play their game.

The question is can the opposition actually get its act together and provide a strong counter to her hard Brexit strategy, because this is all going to get very ugly very quickly.

There has been widespread public support for Monday's decision, while political experts have given mixed responses.

"I will be asking the British people for a mandate to complete Brexit and to make a success of it", the Conservative leader said, to cheers from her lawmakers sitting behind her.

Rejecting the PM's claim that an election is needed to prevent disunity at Westminster undermining a Brexit deal, Mr Corbyn said: "There is no obstacle to the Government negotiating, but, instead of getting on with the job, she is painting herself as the prisoner of the Liberal Democrats".

"There will be no second referendum", May told the BBC.

Aggregate polling data published by the Times on Wednesday put Conservative support on 43%, Labour on 24%, the Liberal Democrats on 11% and UKIP on 10%.

Other reports by VgToday

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