Published: Fri, April 21, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

European Parliament chief: United Kingdom election 'good for EU

UK Prime Minister Theresa May today (18 April) announced she will call a snap general election for 8 June.

MPs voted by 522 votes to 13 to support the election which May sees as a mandate for her strategy for Britain leaving the European Union (EU).

As the measure does not need approval from the House of Lords, the process of dissolving parliament next month in advance of the election will get underway. At the start of the year Corbyn's aides signaled a new strategy which took its cues from the anti-establishment, anti-mainstream media rhetoric of Donald Trump. A two-thirds majority of MPs must agree to a move that will shorten the lifespan of a parliament.

"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.

"Yesterday she changed her mind, not for the good of the country, but for reasons of simple party advantage", Nicola Sturgeon, leader of the Scottish National Party, told supporters at a rally.

May has already won approval from Queen Elizabeth for the snap election.

Downing Street said the June election will not affect May's Brexit timetable.

But there was deep division over the issues which should decide the election's outcome, with Mrs May casting the poll as an opportunity to secure "strong and stable leadership" for Britain as it forges a new position outside the European Union, while Mr Corbyn said voters should take the chance to make their judgment on the Conservative record on austerity and public service cuts.

Britain voted to leave the European Union last June and May formally triggered Article 50, the EU's divorce clause, on March 29, beginning what are set to be at least two years of hard negotiations before Britain finally leaves.

Critics of an early election accuse May of taking advantage of low ratings for the main opposition Labour Party. May has been insisting until days ago that she had no intention of calling an early election.

"The Conservatives will use all the divide-and-rule tricks of the Lynton Crosby trade to protect the wealth extractors' rigged system", the Labour leader is expected to say.

May will be going into the election holding 330 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, with a working majority of 17.

By contrast Labour is wracked by divisions, over Brexit and Corbyn's left-wing leadership, which is opposed by many of his more centrist MPs.

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

Britain will go to the polls on June 8, after MPs cleared the way for an early general election. "The country is coming together, but Westminster is not".

Mr Corbyn said the election was an opportunity for voters to pass judgement on the Tories' record on austerity, cuts to the NHS and schools, child poverty and a crisis in housing.

There has been widespread public support for Monday's decision, while political experts have given mixed responses.

But Ms Richards said she did not believe a potential worsening of the economy to be a factor.

The spokesman noted that this did not mean there will be a delay in Brexit talks, "because negotiations were meant to start in June regardless of the United Kingdom government's decision to call an election on the 8th". "The election will be dominated by Brexit, and the Labour Party will have to finally clarify its position".

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