UK lawmakers back prime minister's call for June 8 election

Jerome Frank
April 20, 2017

A pugnacious Corbyn said: "If this general election is about leadership, as Theresa May said this morning, she should not be dodging head-to-head TV debates".

With Mrs May needing the support of 434 MPs - two thirds of all seats in the House of Commons - some 522 voted for the early election, with just 13 against.

May said she was concerned that opposition parties would seek to derail Brexit by voting against key pieces of legislation including the Great Repeal Bill, which will provide the legislative authority to take Britain out of the European Union.

"How can any voter trust what the prime minister says?" asked Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party. The SNP MPs abstained in the vote.

She said that waiting until 2020 would mean the "most sensitive" part of the two-year Brexit negotiations would come during the run-up to an election.

He dismissed the PM's argument that she needs a fresh mandate to deliver Brexit, and said it was "extremely interesting" she had called for an election as the Crown Prosecution Service decides whether to press charges against a number of Tory MPs over allegations relating to 2015 election expenses.

As the debate began, former chancellor George Osborne - who has recently been appointed editor of the London Evening Standard - announced he would not be standing for election on June 8.

Bale said a bigger majority would give May a new batch of loyal Conservative lawmakers and leave her less at the mercy of euroskeptics in her party "who otherwise could have made negotiations much more hard".

According to MIDF Research, the market took the unexpected news of an early election in the United Kingdom as increasing chance for a more moderate Brexit.

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Labour Party shadow home secretary Diane Abbott said May had made a decision to "cut and run" ahead of Brexit negotiations and predicted an unpleasant campaign under the management of spin-doctor Lynton Crosby, the man behind the dirty campaigning for Zac Goldsmith when he ran against Labour's Sadiq Khan in the London mayoral election. Lib Dems may gain 25 seats to 34 while UKIP is expected to get 1 seat and the SNP is forecast to lose four seats to 50.

May enjoys a runaway lead in opinion polls over the main opposition Labour Party, and the British economy has so far defied predictions of a slowdown, offering her a strong base to launch a poll some lawmakers described as "opportunistic". Leaders of European Union states are due to adopt negotiating guidelines at an April 29 summit, and the bloc will prepare detailed plans for the talks with Britain by late May.

For decades British prime ministers could call elections at will, but that changed with the 2011 Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, which established set polling days every five years.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who is pressing for an independence referendum, said May was making a "huge political miscalculation" that would bolster her Scottish National Party.

"This was an incredibly hard decision for the Prime Minister to make", he said. Johnson said that "going now will give me the opportunity to do other things with my life and is therefore in the best interests of me and my family".

'If we're negotiating at a point that is quite close to a general election, I think the Europeans might have seen that as a time of weakness when they could push us, ' she explained.

She says it's about leadership, yet is refusing to defend her record in television debates and it's not hard to see why.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has accused Mrs May of "bottling" and said broadcasters had a "moral duty" to go ahead with the showdowns even if she fails to take part.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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