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22 April 2017, 01:27 | Terri Saunders
Theresa May is seen as a pragmatic leader but the snap election decision came as a complete surprise More
British Prime Minister Theresa May on Wednesday defended her decision to call an early election for June, saying it would strengthen the government's hand in negotiations to leave the European Union.
She needed to win the backing of more than two thirds of parliament's 650 members in order to hold an early election.
British Prime Minister Theresa May has stunned Westminster by calling an earlygeneral election for June 8.
The Scottish National Party's leader in the Westminster parliament, Angus Robertson, said: "For months we have heard from her that now is not the time for the public to vote, that no one wants it, that it is important to get on with the day job, that nothing should get on the way".
The Lib Dem leader predicted that Labour will lose "dozens and dozens" of seats on June 8, and said that the only threat to Conservative MPs came from his party.
"Even though May looks set to secure a strong mandate from United Kingdom voters, the priority of European Union negotiators heading into the Brexit talks remains the protection of the European Union", said Jane Foley, senior foreign exchange strategist at Rabobank.
As had been widely predicted, UK Prime Minister Theresa May has been given the green light to proceed with a "snap" general election.
May had previously said categorically that the next general election would be held as scheduled in 2020. Polls give the Conservatives a double-digit lead over Labour, and May is gambling that an election will deliver her a personal mandate from voters and produce a bigger Conservative majority.
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She had also backed the Remain camp in the June 23 referendum, but kept a low profile throughout a polarising campaign.
With polls showing May's Conservatives with a commanding lead over her main rival, the prime minister is calculating she can increase her slim majority of just 17 lawmakers and negotiate the kind of Brexit she wants without being swayed by hard-liners in her party. "It's about ... getting the right deal from Europe".
May said on Tuesday that she had been reluctant about asking parliament to back her move to bring forward the election from 2020, but decided it was necessary to win support for her ruling Conservative Party's efforts to press ahead with Britain's departure from the EU.
"What the British people - what the people of the United Kingdom - voted for previous year was for the UK to leave the European Union".
Parliament will be dissolved on May 2 to allow the the formal election campaign to begin.
On the back of Britain's Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump as USA president, it will be a decision which will be of huge interest internationally.
Eloise Todd, director of the Best for Britain campaign, said the movement will support different parties and organisations, adding: "We are not party political".
Responding to ITV's announcement, Mr Corbyn said: "I welcome ITV's decision to attempt to hold a TV debate with the Prime Minister".
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