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United Kingdom - Elections 08 June 2017

Saying it is the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead, British Prime Minister Theresa May on April 18, 2017 called for early elections 08 June 2017, in a move she hoped would give her a stronger position as she negotiated Britains departure from the European Union.

Britain is leaving the European Union and there can be no turning back, May said in announcing her call for an early election outside No. 10 Downing Street. We wil regain control of our own money, our own laws and our own borders and we will be free to strike trade deals with old friends and new partners all around the world.

This is the right approach, and it is in the national interest. But the other political parties oppose it, she said. At this moment of enormous national significance, there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division."

Ever since Theresa May became prime minister, after Britain voted to leave the EU on June 23 and David Cameron resigned, the possibility of an early election has hovered in the background. May has strenuously denied that this was her plan. In September 2016, she said: "I'm not going to be calling a snap election. I've been very clear that I think we need that period of time, that stability, to be able to deal with the issues that the country is facing and have that election in 2020." As late as March 2017, Downing Street was denying that an early election was on the cards.

Analysts said Mays shock decision to call elections long before their next due date in 2020 was a means to consolidate the Conservatives power and put the bickering behind.

The numbers suggested that May is likely to significantly increase her currently small majority with a snap election. The Labour Party is in a dire state, riven by internal conflict and dominated by criticism of leader Jeremy Corbyn. An average of all opinion polls current had the Conservatives on 42 percent and Labour on 27 percent, enough to deliver a substantial majority to May.

The British leader challenged opposition parties to band together on June 8, a move analysts say is a risky but calculated move for May, given the Labor Partys worst popularity slump in a century. This is your moment to show you mean it, to show you are not opposing the government for the sake of it, to show that you do not treat politics as a game, May said.

May accused political parties of "game-playing," saying this threatens the countrys ability to make a success of Brexit." She said Labour threatened to vote against a final Brexit deal with the EU, the Liberal Democrats warned they wanted to "grind the business of government to a standstill", and the Scottish National Party (SNP) said it would vote against legislation formally repealing Britain's EU membership. Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn had threatened to work to derail Mays plan for negotiating post-Brexit trade deals, and criticized the British leaders calls for reducing taxes and regulations to attract investment after Britain leaves the EU. At the same time, the Scottish National Party has threatened to vote against a bill to formally repeal Britains EU membership.

The Liberal Democrats, who had only eight MPs, have fought several by-elections on an anti-Brexit platform, pledging to hold a second referendum. The party leader, Tim Farron, immediately issued a statement positing the Liberal Democrats as the anti-Brexit option: "If you want to avoid a disastrous hard Brexit. If you want to keep Britain in the single market. If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance."

Irish republican party Sinn Fein announced it would seek a special status in the EU for Northern Island. "Sinn Fein opposed Brexit because it will be disastrous for the people of Ireland, our economy and our public services," said Michelle O'Neill, who leads the party in Northern Island. "The people of the North clearly voted to see their future in the European Union in the referendum last June," she added, referring to the 56 percent of citizens in Northern Ireland who voted to remain in the bloc.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had requested a second independence vote. "The Tories see a chance to move the UK to the right, force through a hard Brexit and impose deeper cuts. Let's stand up for Scotland," Sturgeon said after May's announcement.

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