British PM announces shock election
BRITISH Prime Minister Theresa May has shocked the country by going back on months of promises and calling for a general election as the country heads into one of the most uncertain periods in its recent history.
The PM stood at the steps of 10 Downing Street and said only an election would ensure both that her opponents could not derail Brexit and that Britain's position was strong in talks with the European Union.
The Commons was to vote on her plan overnight on Wednesday but polls already predict a substantial election victory for the Tories and a drubbing for Jeremy Corbyn's Labour.
With her starting position looking stronger than any other party leader's for decades, Ms May's team felt confident enough to announce she would not take part in any live TV debates during the election campaign.
The rumour mill started grinding as the Cabinet met to finalise Ms May's plans for an election, which had been weeks in the making.
Ever since she took office, some Tory MPs have been pushing her to call an election with the knowledge that polls indicate voters do not see Mr Corbyn as a viable alternative.
Ms May resisted until recently, when sources told The Independent she became concerned Tory rebels and political opponents in the Commons and Lords could derail the complex legislative program she must pass to lock in Brexit.
Stunning listeners just after 11am on Tuesday local time, she said: "I have just chaired a meeting of the Cabinet, where we agreed that the government should call a general election, to be held on 8 June.”
One by one she attacked Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and "unelected members of the House of Lords” for challenging her Brexit program, adding: "If we do not hold a general election now, their political game-playing will continue and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election (in 2020).
"Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country. So we need a general election and we need one now.”
But her announcement came after election denials going back almost a year - as she ran for Tory leader in June she said there would be no election until 2020. She again ruled out the possibility in September after winning the keys to Downing Street, in October ahead of Tory conference, and several times last month.
At the weekend, a ComRes survey for The Independent gave the Tories a 21-point lead over Labour, with some seat projections suggesting Mr Corbyn's party will fall from its current 229 to as low as 160, while the Tories could close in on 400.