British Parliament approves snap election

Green activists have begun plotting non-aggression pacts in 15 different constituenciesANDREW MATTHEWS

Green activists have begun plotting non-aggression pacts in 15 different constituenciesANDREW MATTHEWS

British Prime Minister Theresa May said Wednesday she wanted a "mandate to complete Brexit", as MPs looked set to approve her bombshell call for a snap general election in June.

Former Conservative finance minister George Osborne, a powerful voice in favour of Britain's European Union membership during the referendum campaign, also said he would not seek re-election.

She also revealed a concern that the May 2020 election date stipulated by the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act would leave her vulnerable to pressure from Brussels as she neared the end of the two-year withdrawal negotiations in March 2019. A two-thirds majority of MPs must agree to a move that will shorten the lifespan of a parliament.

Vince Cable, a former business minister in the coalition government who was voted out in the 2015 general election, has announced his intention to run in his old seat of Twickenham in west London.

Lawmakers in the House of Commons voted 522 to 13 on Wednesday to support the motion put forward by May a day earlier.

The election announcement caused a rally in the pound, which had fallen since the Brexit vote, amid speculation that May will be returned with a stronger mandate.

Britain's next national election is now scheduled for 2020, a year after the scheduled completion of two years of European Union exit talks.

The gap before talks begin in earnest in June gave her a "window of opportunity" to strengthen her hand by improving her slim 17-seat majority and pushing the next election date back to 2022, by which time the United Kingdom should have long ago left the EU. Because when we win, it's the people, not the powerful, who win. "There can be no turning back".

The Labour leader will acknowledge that "much of the media and the establishment" already believe his party can not win the election, but will pledge not to "play by the rules" and "change the direction" of the polls. She had resisted calls for an early election from within her own party for months.

May's Conservative Party, which is firmly pro-Brexit, holds a bare majority of 17 seats in Parliament, but most polls show conservatives with a double-digit lead over the opposing Labour Party, led by Jeremy Corbyn.

In a taster of the campaign ahead, May traded barbs in the Commons with opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn - most likely for one of the last times before the election, after the prime minister ruled out attending any television debates. "I'm asking them to put their trust in me and if they do that, if they give me a mandate for these negotiations for the plan for Brexit that the Government has, the plan for a stronger Britain beyond Brexit that we have, then I think that will strengthen our hand", May told BBC.

In her speech on Tuesday at the door of 10 Downing Street, May made it clear why she wanted an early election.

"I believe in campaigns where politicians actually get out and about and meet the voters", she said.

We shouldn't also forget that there's council elections coming up in May which may give us an indication of where the country is going. We can't win, they say, because we don't play their game.

But Mr Corbyn said she was "running scared" by refusing to face him in TV debates during the campaign.

There has been widespread public support for Monday's decision, while political experts have given mixed responses. "The election will be dominated by Brexit, and the Labour Party will have to finally clarify its position".

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