Theresa May: Early general election will strengthen Government's Brexit negotiating hand

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 20, 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May's surprise call for June elections approved 522 to 13 by British members of parliament.

"So it's rather unusual that only a couple of hours after calling for a general election, the Prime Minister is saying she's not going to take part in TV debates", Corbyn said.

British Prime Minister Theresa May says an early election is in the country's national interest and will strengthen its hand in Brexit negotiations.

May has also ruled out taking part in TV debates with Corbyn and her other political opponents, saying she believed elections were all about "getting out and about and meeting voters" and, in her words, "knocking on doors".

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's spokesman said there would be no delay to negotiations, which the Commission's chief negotiator Michel Barnier has previously said would start in early June.

Following the election decision, the parliament will be dissolved on May 2.

"What do we know that the leader of the Labour Party, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and the leader of the Scottish nationalists have in common?" she asked Parliament on Wednesday (local time).

Following considerable wrangling over formats, the 2015 election campaign saw one debate featuring Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg alongside Labour's Ed Miliband and leaders of Ukip, the Scottish National Party, Greens and Plaid Cymru, as well as a second debate with the five non-coalition parties and programmes in which Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg and Mr Miliband answered questions but did not debate face-to-face.

As she made her pitch for early election, May said she chose "to trust the people", and urged lawmakers to do the same.

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

She said: "This is a UK-wide election that will have major implications for Scotland, and only Labour or the Tories can form the next government".

May will be going into the election holding 330 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, with a working majority of 17.

Labour has already said it supports an early election.

The Liberal Democrats won a ninth seat in parliament in a by-election in Richmond in December.

May dismissed criticism of her decision to call voters back to polling booths for the third time in just over 24 months. A national election in May 2015 was followed by the June 2016 referendum on European Union membership. She added that she hoped it would bring about unity during a hard time as the United Kingdom negotiated the terms of Brexit.

Downing Street sources say the Tory leader does not want to take part in TV debates ahead of the snap election on June 8.

Tusk will chair a summit of the other 27 European Union national leaders in Brussels on April 29, where he expects them to agree negotiating guidelines he has proposed.

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said "the real political negotiations on Article 50 with the United Kingdom will start after the elections foreseen for June 8".

Political leaders' TV debates featured in the last two general elections, in 2010 and 2015.

Mrs May added: "I believe in campaigns where politicians actually get out and about and meet with voters".

One broadcaster, ITV, said it planned to hold a debate with or without the prime minister.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, meanwhile, accused the prime minister of looking after the interests of "party before country".

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