General election 2017: MPs back plans for 8 June poll

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

The House of Commons backed the PM by a margin of 522 votes to 13, above the two-thirds majority needed, as Labour and the Lib Dems supported the move.

The PM has argued a fresh mandate would strengthen her hand in Brexit talks and provide certainty for the future.

Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the poll but accused the PM of changing her mind and breaking promises on a range of issues.

The next general election had been expected in 2020, but the Fixed Term Parliaments Act allows for one to be held earlier if it has the support of two-thirds of MPs.

Defending the measure, Mrs May told MPs there was a “window of opportunity” to hold a poll before Brexit negotiations begin in earnest in June and that the country needed “strong leadership” to make a success of the process.

The prime minister, who will make her first campaign stop in the north-west of England later, is hoping to significantly boost her current Commons majority of 17 to increase her authority, ahead of 18 months of talks which will determine the manner of the UK’s exit from the EU.

Campaigning

Mrs May, who became PM last July after the EU referendum, told MPs that it would wrong for the UK to find itself reaching the most “difficult and sensitive” phase of Brexit negotiations in late 2018 and early 2019 at a time when a general election was “looming on the horizon”.

During a special debate in the Commons, she said it was the “right and responsible” thing to do hold the election now in order to provide “five years of stability and certainty” and help the UK prepare for life outside the EU.

Mr Corbyn backed the move but suggested Mrs May’s word could no longer be trusted after she reversed her previous position on the issue. The SNP accused Mrs May of political opportunism but abstained in Wednesday’s vote.

Nine Labour MPs opposed the snap election as did three independents and the SDLP’s Alisdair McDonnell.

Although Parliament will not be officially dissolved until early May, campaigning is already under way – with Lib Dem leader Tim Farron addressing a rally of activists in south-west London earlier on Wednesday.

Mrs May has said she will not take part in any TV leaders’ debates, leading to criticism from Mr Corbyn and others that she is “running scared”.

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