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UK prime minister defends decision to seek snap election

20 April 2017

British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to media as she calls a snap general election in London on Tuesday.

The majority of 509 votes gives UK Prime Minister Theresa May her two-thirds majority, which is required to call an election under the Fixed Term Parliament Act.

Standing outside her Downing Street office, May said she had been reluctant to ask parliament to back her move to bring forward the poll from 2020.

Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said: 'The outcome of the United Kingdom election now adds an element of short-term uncertainty about how the Brexit negotiations will unfold, while the big rally in the British pound has increased volatility and had a knock-on impact on the United Kingdom stock market'.

Britain's next national election had not been due until for 2020, a year after the scheduled completion of two years of European Union exit talks.

Despite getting backing from Corbyn, voting figures suggest that many Labour MPs chose to abstain, as 174 Labour MPs out of 229 voted in favour.

The House of Commons voted for an early election by 522 votes to 13 - a majority of 509.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said the Prime Minister's decision reflects the disdain she holds for the north and attempts to restore power sharing government.

The Labour party has rejected May's claims that the election is about Brexit and said they will make issues about austerity and working conditions central to its campaign.

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

"I trust the British public".

He said the majority of Londoners had voted to Remain in the European Union and will now be able to have their pro-European voice heard through their general election vote.

Mrs May shocked the country by announcing on Tuesday her intention to hold a snap election on June 8, declaring it the ideal way to strengthen her position with her European counterparts.

May enjoys a runaway lead in opinion polls over the main opposition Labour Party, and the British economy has so far defied predictions of a slowdown, offering her a strong base to launch a poll some lawmakers described as "opportunistic".

"The Prime Minister has made it very clear, yet again, she wants a deal - and I absolutely agree and support her".

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron accused Mrs May of "bottling" and said broadcasters had a "moral duty" to go ahead with the televised leaders' showdowns even if she fails to take part.

"Now we will be much freer".

Cynics (myself included) point out that the Conservative Party now ejoys a 20% lead over the opposition Labour Party which finds itself in disarray under a leader regarded as weak by the public and many of his own MPs.

Meanwhile the Scottish National Party, which holds most of the seats in Scotland, is pushing its demands for a second referendum on independence in order to maintain close ties with the EU.

And Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood - whose profile received a major boost from her involvement in two of the 2015 broadcasts - said: "Theresa May should be empty chaired if she doesn't show up to any planned TV debates".