London - UK Prime Minister Theresa May said she will seek an early election on
June 8, in an unexpected gamble aimed at strengthening her hand going
into talks on leaving the European Union.
The surprise statement came less than a month after she triggered the
formal start of Brexit and marks a reversal of her position before the
Easter break, when her office insisted an early election wasn’t on the
An election isn’t
due until 2020 though her popularity - polls show her Conservative
more than 20 points ahead of the main opposition -- give her an opening
to consolidate her power. The announcement indicates that May has
decided she cannot get the Brexit legislation she needs through the
House of Commons with the slim majority she inherited from
“There should be unity here in Westminster but instead there is
division,” she said in a statement outside her Downing Street residence
on Tuesday. “The country is coming together but Westminster is not.” A
rift in Parliament will damage the government’s ability to make a
success of Brexit, she said.
Her current polling lead over
Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party means she can be fairly confident of
increasing her majority, and bringing Tory lawmakers into Parliament who
will back her on the flavour of Brexit that she prefers.
A poll on Monday gave the Conservatives a 21-point lead over Labour
for the first time in nine years, according to the Times newspaper.
May’s party would win 44% of the vote, compared with 23%
for Labour and 12% for the Liberal Democrats, the Times said,
citing a poll by YouGov.
However, a 2011 law passed by Cameron during his coalition government
with the Liberal Democrats has complicated matters. It means there are
two circumstances in which there could be an early election: If
two-thirds of the House of Commons votes for one or if the government
loses a no-confidence vote and a new administration fails to win a
confidence motion within 14 days.
That means that May would either have to repeal the Fixed-Term
Parliament Act, which at the time was meant to provide stability in the
aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, or orchestrate a vote of
no-confidence in her own government.
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