Monday 24th April, 2017
labour-and-lib-dem-help-secure-two-thirds-majority-needed-for-mays-calls-for-general-election

LONDON, U.K. - A day after U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May delivered a shocker, calling for a General Election on June 8, she sought the backing from MPs in the House of Commons. 

On Wednesday, MPs voted by 522 votes to 13, backing her call and easily surpassing the two-thirds majority in the 650-seat House of Commons needed to trigger an early vote to bring forward the election from 2020.

Nine Labour MPs opposed the snap election, while three independents and the SDLP's Alasdair McDonnell too opposed it.

The SNP MPs meanwhile abstained in Wednesday's vote and have accused May of political opportunism.

The last coalition government had introduced the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, under which the next election was not due until 2020.

As per the act however, a poll can be called before that, if it receives the backing of two-thirds of MPs.

May had argued that an early election is in the national interest and that it is the only way to secure stability ahead of Brexit.

Tabling the motion on Wednesday, the prime minister urged voters to "give her the mandate to speak for Britain and to deliver for Britain.”

May told MPs there was a "window of opportunity" to hold a poll before Brexit negotiations began in earnest in June.

The parliamentary election comes less than a year after Britain voted to leave the European Union.

In July last year, May took office after an internal Conservative Party leadership race.

The upcoming election is likely be dominated by the political and economic upheaval spawned by Brexit.

Now, May is seen to be seeking to increase her majority in Parliament and consolidate her power as she faces both pro-EU opposition politicians and hard-core Brexit-backers inside her own party.

With British voters now scheduled to head to polling stations for the third time since 2015 on June 8 - campaigning got under way almost immediately. 

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who made his first campaign stop in Croydon, said a Labour government would stop May from using Brexit to make the U.K. an "offshore tax haven.”

The Labour leader said if elected, he would raise the minimum wage to 10 pounds an hour and increase spending on the NHS, social care and council housing.

May too immediately kicked off her campaign, delivering a speech to supporters in northwestern England.

She said the Conservatives would provide “strong and stable leadership” for Brexit and beyond, and promising to wage “a positive and optimistic campaign.”

With Britain headed for delicate negotiations on leaving the European Union - May had pointed out that ever since Britons voted to leave the EU last year, the country had come together, but politicians had failed to do so.

She said earlier, "The country is coming together but Westminster is not… if we do not hold an election now (opposition politicians') political game playing will continue.”

She said that the divisions risk undermining Britain’s position in Brexit negotiations that lie ahead.

May even pointed out that it would be wrong for the U.K. to find itself reaching the most "difficult and sensitive" phase of Brexit negotiations in late 2018 and early 2019 at a time when a general election was "looming on the horizon.”

Addressing a special Commons debate, she said it was the "right and responsible" thing to do hold the election now to help the U.K. prepare for life outside the EU.

In her first campaign speech in Bolton, May drew comparisons between the "strong and stable leadership" she could provide with what she warned would be a "coalition of chaos" if Jeremy Corbyn was elected.

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron too addressed a rally of activists in south-west London.

Hinting at a possible return to frontline politics in the future, former Conservative chancellor George Osborne said he would not be standing again in Tatton to concentrate on his job as editor of the Evening Standard.

Former Lib Dem deputy prime minister Nick Clegg meanwhile said that he will stand in Sheffield Hallam.

Conservative grandee Ken Clarke too is expected to contest Rushcliffe again.

Even though he has represented the seat since 1970, he had previously indicated he would stand down in 2020.

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