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United Kingdom prime minister defends decision to seek snap election

United Kingdom prime minister defends decision to seek snap election

Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday an early election would strengthen her at the "most crucial point" in Britain's divorce talks with the European Union, as she prepared to ask parliament to approve a vote in just seven weeks' time.

May has framed the election, in which her ruling Conservative party could win as many as 100 extra seats, as a way of securing the best possible Brexit deal for the UK.

The total number of seats up for election is slightly down from the 4,871 seats now held to 4,851 seats as a result of boundary changes at some councils. Elections are now set for 2020, just a year after the scheduled completion of Brexit talks.

"That would be in nobody's interest", May said.

Parliament is expected to be dissolved on Wednesday May 3, 25 working days before polling.

Parliament will vote Wednesday on holding a June 8 election.

But her decision also opens the door to more uncertainty in the region, as it now puts Europe's three most powerful nations - Britain, Germany and France - into full-throttle election mode.

Opinion polls suggest May's Conservatives are enjoying a huge lead over Labour.

May's Conservatives now hold 330 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said that, for May, calling the election is "the political equivalent of taking candy from a baby". "She says it's about leadership, yet is refusing to defend her record in television debates". The Lib Dems now have just nine seats in Parliament. "There can be no turning back".

On the back of Britain's Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump as USA president, it will be a decision which will be of huge interest internationally.

She said the early ballot would strengthen Britain's negotiating hand with the 27-member EU.

"We see this decision as much as a decision to curtail the "hard Brexit" faction within the Conservative Party as it is to contain anti-Brexit political parties", said Derek Halpenny, European head of global markets research at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ. "The Brexit talks are still set to be tough and the result could still deal a blow to the United Kingdom economy".

The pro-Brexit, right-wing newspapers portrayed her decision as an aggressive move to strengthen her hand in the talks with the 27 other European Union members and to crush her domestic opponents. The leaders of the 27 remaining European Union countries will meet on April 29 to agree the bloc's negotiating position, which will then be translated into a legal text by the European Union commission in May.

May is expected to win the vote, and wants to hold an election on June 8.

"We expect to have the Brexit guidelines adopted by the European Council on April 29 and following that the Brexit negotiating directives ready on May 22".

On the issue of TV debates, Robertson asked: "Can the prime minister tell the people why she's running scared of a televised debate with Nicola Sturgeon?"


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