U.K. lawmakers approve June 8 election date
British voters will be heading to polling stations for the third time since 2015, after lawmakers overwhelmingly backed Prime Minister Theresa May’s call for a snap election June 8.
The parliamentary election comes less than a year after Britain voted to leave the European Union, and will likely be dominated by the political and economic upheaval spawned by Brexit.
May, who took office in July after an internal Conservative Party leadership race, wants the election to increase her majority in Parliament and consolidate her power as she faces both pro-EU opposition politicians and hard-core Brexit-backers inside her own party.
Lawmakers voted Wednesday by a resounding 522 to 13 to back May’s call for an election, easily surpassing the two-thirds majority in the 650-seat House of Commons needed to trigger an early vote.
May wasted no time, going from the vote in Parliament to kick off her campaign with a speech in to supporters northwestern England.
She said the Conservatives would provide “strong and stable leadership” for Brexit and beyond, and promising to wage “a positive and optimistic campaign.”
Earlier, May said holding an election in June, rather than as scheduled in 2020, would “deliver a more secure future for
our country” as it negotiates its departure from the EU.
She said that waiting until 2020 would mean the “most sensitive” part of the two-year Brexit negotiations would come during the run-up to an election.
“That would be in nobody’s interest,” May said.
Now that lawmakers have approved the election, Parliament will be dissolved at midnight on May 2, 25 working days before election day.
The opposition Labour Party and Liberal Democrats welcomed the chance to put their policies to voters, though the Scottish National Party called
the election a cynical political ploy. Its lawmakers abstained during Wednesday’s vote.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said the election “gives the British people the chance to vote for a Labour government that will put the interests of the majority first.”
Despite Corbyn’s bravado, his party is demoralized and divided under his left-wing leadership and is expected to fare badly. Polls give the Conservatives a double-digit lead over Labour, and May is gambling that an election will deliver her a personal mandate from voters and produce a bigger Conservative majority.
British Prime Minister Theresa May’s call for a June 8 election comes less than a year after Britain voted to leave the European Union.