Published: Wed, April 19, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

What's next and what's at stake in United Kingdom election

What's next and what's at stake in United Kingdom election

"We need a general election and we need one now", May said. We have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done. Most often, prime ministers call new elections to break some political crisis and do a sort of referendum on whatever issue has been holding up Parliament.

LABOUR will offer an "effective alternative" to the Conservative government, Jeremy Corbyn said, as Theresa May called a snap election.

There will be a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday to approve the election plan.

May will hope the election will boost her slim majority in parliament and give her a new mandate to put her stamp on domestic reforms in education and health and strengthen her hand in talks with the European Union, which will start in earnest in June.

While Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed the PM's decision, online bookmaker Paddy Power tweeted: "Jeremy Corbyn is in for a shock when he wakes up in 45 minutes".

May's governing Conservatives now have a slight majority, with 330 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons.

"This is a cynical move by May, who clearly wants to increase her majority so she can force through a hard, economically catastrophic Brexit unopposed, or as close to unopposed as possible", said Zoe Lawrence, a London-based charity worker.

"It was with reluctance that I decided the country needs this election but it is with strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond". A poor display in one broadcast could weaken her standing as prime minister and give one of the other leaders a polling boost.

"I believe it is right for a General Election to take place before the Brexit negotiations get fully underway".

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May, who commands only a slim majority in parliament's lower House of Commons, said that a new mandate would strengthen her hand in negotiations in Brexit talks.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron accused Mrs May of "bottling" the debates and urged broadcasters to "empty chair" her if she refused to take part.

Explaining her decision, Mrs May said that Westminster had become divided following the European Union referendum, which could "cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country".

What is a snap election?

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May is capitalising on her runaway lead in the opinion polls. But the election still carries risk for May, with voters' potentially wary at being asked to go to the polls again, less than a year after the European Union referendum. So I have a simple challenge to the opposition parties. "She's taking people for granted already and voters never like that".

The strongly pro-EU Liberal Democrats have seen thousands of new members join since the referendum and are likely to make gains.

Rather than helping the country unite, the election could widen divisions within the United Kingdom.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called the decision a "huge political miscalculation" by May "in terms of Scotland". The Lib Dems are, of the three UK-wide parties, the only one to actively oppose Brexit, and thus could be expected to pick up more than a few seats from the Conservatives and Labour, especially in metropolitan areas that voted to remain.

The May government has also faced resurgent Scottish National Party (SNP), which holds 54 seats.

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