U.K. lawmakers back Theresa May’s call for June 8 election

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“The prime minister’s attempt to dodge scrutiny shows how she holds the public in contempt,” he said.

Danica Kirka in London and Raf Casert in Brussels contributed to this story.

Now that lawmakers have approved the election, Parliament will be dissolved at midnight on May 2, 25 working days before election day.

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

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.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said that, for May, calling the election is “the political equivalent of taking candy from a baby.”

“She expects a coronation and not a contest,” Farron said, urging voters to back his strongly pro-EU party to stop a Conservative landslide. The Lib Dems currently have just nine seats in Parliament.

“That would be in nobody’s interest,” May said.

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.”

It’s about … getting the right deal from Europe,” May said. “Brexit isn’t just about the letter that says we want to leave.

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.

A still image taken from footage broadcast by the UK Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) on April 19, 2017 shows British Prime Minister Theresa May laughing during Prime Ministers questions in the House of Commons in London. Britain’s parliament votes today on holding a snap election in June, as Prime Minister Theresa May seeks to make strong gains against the opposition before gruelling Brexit negotiations. / (PRU AND AFP PHOTO/ Handout)
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One broadcaster, ITV, said it planned to hold a debate with or without the prime minister.
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.

Liberal Democrat leader Farron said that broadcasters should hold debates anyway, with an empty chair in May’s place.
May’s Conservatives currently hold 330 House of Commons seats and Labour 229.

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Its lawmakers abstained during Wednesday’s vote. 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.

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May ruled out participating in televised debates with other leaders. TV debates don’t have a long history in British politics, but were a feature of the last two elections, in 2010 and 2015.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will seek election on June 8

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.

Leaders of EU states are due to adopt negotiating guidelines at an April 29 summit, and the bloc will prepare detailed plans for the talks with Britain by late May.

“We won’t be doing television debates,” May said, adding that politicians should spend election campaigns “out and about” meeting voters.

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.

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LONDON — 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 on June 8.
A national election in May 2015 was followed by the June 2016 referendum on EU membership. May dismissed criticism of her decision to call voters back to polling booths for the third time in just over 24 months.

It had been hoped talks could start by the end of that month, but EU Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said Wednesday that “the real political negotiations” with Britain would not start till after the June 8 election.

EU officials say Britain’s surprise election will not interrupt the bloc’s preparations for Brexit talks — though they will slightly delay the start of negotiations.

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