UK Prime Minister Theresa May announced a general election to be held on June 8.
“I have just chaired a meeting of the Cabinet, where we agreed that the Government should call a general election, to be held on June 8.”
Conservative party leader Theresa May
“I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion,” May said. “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.”
May specifically pointed to the Labour party’s threat to vote against the final Brexit agreement and opposition from the Scottish National Party and Liberal Democrats.
May will introduce a motion in the House of Commons on April 19 to approve the plan. The motion requires a two-thirds majority.
The House of Commons is expected to dissolve on May 3.
“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,” Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn said.
Corbyn also told the BBC that he would be the country’s prime minister if his party wins.
Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron rallied supporters, tweeting that “this is your chance” for a Britain that is “open, tolerant, and united.”
“Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority,” Farron said.
Farron accused May of “bottling” televised debates and urged broadcasters to “empty chair” her if she refused to participate.
Green Party leader Caroline Lucas said: “Only the Green party offers a bold, positive vision for a different kind of Britain.”
“The Tories see a chance to move the UK to the right, force through a hard Brexit and impose deeper cuts,” Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon said. “Let’s stand up for Scotland.”
In Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams tweeted: “So Ms May has called a British General Election. Sinn Féin is up 4 that!” He said the elections would be another chance to vote against Brexit.
Social Democratic and Labour Party leader Colum Eastwood issued a statement. “We now have an opportunity to strengthen the mandate of parties which campaigned against and consistently voted against Brexit at Westminster,” he said.
Democratic Unionist Party leader Arlene Foster called for a unionist pact, saying “the forthcoming election will be an opportunity for unionists to unite around a strong Democratic Unionist Party that will advocate for them in Parliament.”