British PM Theresa May calls general election

Praising MPs for backing her during a stump speech in the north-west of England, Mrs May said: "It's about providing the strong and stable leadership this country needs to take Britain through Brexit and beyond, it's about strengthening our hand in the negotiations that lie ahead, and it's about sticking to our plan for a stronger Britain that will enable us to secure that more stable and secure future for this country and take the right long-term decisions for the future".

She said on Tuesday she had "reluctantly" come to the decision to call for an early election because of political division in Westminster, criticising opposition parties for trying to thwart her plans for leaving the EU.

She is seeking to increase her slim majority of 17 in the 650-seat Commons before the battles begin with the European Union over Britain's exit bill and future trade and immigration ties. Labour faces criticism that its stand on Brexit is not clear enough.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May's call for an early general election was a display of "cheap opportunism" to defeat the Labour Party and win an absolute majority for her government, says a British academic.

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

A victory would give May a powerful mandate extending until 2022, long enough to cover the Brexit negotiations plus a possible transition period into new trading arrangements with the EU. "Labour's self-inflicted weakness has presented the excuse".

Lawmakers voted Wednesday by a resounding 522 to 13 to back May's call for an election, easily surpassing the two-thirds majority in the 650-seat House of Commons needed to trigger an early vote.

But for Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, the move was a "huge political miscalculation" that could help the Scottish National Party's efforts to hold an independence vote.

Nine Labour MPs voted against holding the election along with three independent MPs and one SDLP MP.

May is hoping to increase the parliamentary majority for her ruling Conservatives, strengthening her negotiating position ahead of tough talks with the European Union over the Brexit process.

She said to wait until the scheduled date of 2020 would mean a campaign getting underway as the Brexit talks were reaching the conclusion. Parliament will be dissolved on May 2.

"With a bigger majority she can afford more defections", Ford said, adding: "It would give May more freedom to compromise".

Despite Corbyn's bravado, his party is demoralized and divided under his left-wing leadership and is expected to fare badly.

On the issue of TV debates, Mrs May said: 'First of all I'd point out that I have been answering your questions and debating these matters every Wednesday that Parliament has been sitting since I became Prime Minister'.

Labour leader says he'll prove the doubters wrong and win the election.

"Only by voting Labour can we get rid of Theresa May and stop further cuts to public services".

Ms Dugdale has started writing to Labour members asking them if they would like to consider being a candidate.

I won't be standing at this election. Former Chancellor George Osborne will not be seeking re-election to his Tatton Constituency after he took up a post as editor of the Evening Standard paper in London as well as other jobs.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Amber Rudd are understood to have been told yesterday morning shortly before the gathering of her top team in No10.

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