United Kingdom election will test markets' Brexit optimism

Owen Stevens
April 21, 2017

A United Kingdom general election will be held on 8 June after MPs backed Prime Minister Theresa May's call for a snap poll.

After debating the motion put forward by May in Parliament, 522 of the 650 sitting MPs threw their support behind the early election, well and truly passing the threshold of two-thirds needed to approve the plan.

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 call for an early election came after firm assurances that she would not seek a new election before 2020.

The election will be held on June 8, almost a year after 52 percent of Britons voted to leave the European Union (EU).

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the election call as "a huge political miscalculation by the Prime Minister" which would allow the SNP to reinforce its democratic mandate to stage a second referendum on independence.

She rightly says the country needs a positive response for the Brexit negotiations, repeating that the decision to leave Europe is irreversible.

MPs, the PM said, have a window of opportunity to hold a general election before negotiations with the European Union begin.

But Labour MP Gisela Stuart, one of the architects of Brexit as co-chair of Vote Leave, said she would be standing down after 20 years as MP for Birmingham Edgbaston. The election gives the British people the chance to change direction.

She said the Conservatives would provide "strong and stable leadership" for Brexit and beyond, and promising to wage "a positive and optimistic campaign".

In 2010 and 2015 the number of young and first time voters going to the polls was up on previous elections.

Both Labour and Liberal Democrats have officially welcomed the early poll and are expected to back it in Wednesday afternoon's vote.

Jeremy Corbyn will on Thursday launch the Labour party's general election campaign with a populist appeal to voters to overthrow a "rigged system" run by a "cosy cartel" of the rich and the powerful.

Experts predict that her ruling Conservative Party could win around 100 more seats at the election on 8 June, which should bolster support for her Brexit plan - a prospect that has strengthened the pound. There were warnings that he was leading the party toward a "catastrophic" defeat at the general election scheduled for 2020.

"The prime minister's attempt to dodge scrutiny shows how she holds the public in contempt", he said.

"This election is about her Government's failure to rebuild the economy and living standards for the majority".

Disliked by many in his own party and behind in the polls, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn may struggle to get enough traction in the short lead up to the election.

But the mood among Labour MPs was gloomy in the House of Commons bars, with some referring to fellow MPs in marginal seats as "our almost departed members" and working out "what shade of toast" they were in relation to their slim majorities.

Professor Martin Smith, head of the University of York's Department of Politics, said: "With a large Conservative majority, the government will be able to get through any Brexit deal".

Other reports by VgToday

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