May wins House of Commons backing for snap general election

"The French are having their general election before detailed negotiations take place and I think the logic is quite compelling".

But Ford said that votes for the Liberal Democrats could draw support away from Labour and ultimately boost May's Conservatives.

History shows it may be too soon to ring the death knell for a party that won three consecutive elections before being unseated in 2010, but the political landscape doesn't suggest a resurrection anytime soon.

Peers would also be forced to back the priorities under the Salisbury Convention, which means that the Lords will not try and vote down government plans mentioned in an election manifesto.

Standing in Downing Street before a packed press gallery, May said Britain needed stability and strong leadership at this time.

The prime minister urged voters to give her "the mandate to speak for Britain and to deliver for Britain".

"Britain is leaving the European Union and there can be no turning back", asserted the British PM.

Critics say snap elections have mainly been used by British leaders to hold early votes when it benefited their own parties.

The first big poll carried out since May called an election give her reason to be confident.

Piers Corbyn accused the corporation of a series of cover ups to protect the establishment - that included making attacks on his brother - but insisted Labour could still win a "reasonable" majority. The party currently has 229 and is defending one seat in a special election on May 4 that now looks redundant. The main opposition Labour Party has 229 seats, but numerous party's MPs are estranged from their leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In fact, May's decision on Tuesday may shore up her party's negotiating position in upcoming talks.

Somewhat unkindly, some papers are saying May called the election because she feared the controversial Corbyn was about to resign and she would face a stronger Opposition leader.

She said: "At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity in Westminster, but instead there is division. The country is coming together, but Westminster is not".

She claimed a large Conservative majority would strengthen the Government's hand in getting a good Brexit deal and provide "strong and stable leadership in the national interest".

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

She has also played up the strength of the economy, which has so far defied predictions of a slowdown - a key campaign theme that her Conservative Party will use to try to undermine Labour in the election.

As the debate began, former chancellor George Osborne - who has recently been appointed editor of the "London Evening Standard" - announced he would not be standing for election on June 8.

He said: "The Prime Minister and her cabinet have decided they want to have an election and within the constraints of the fixed parliament act, which I hope we will eventually get rid of, there has to be a vote in parliament".

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