Brexit talks to start after UK vote in June

Judith Bessette
Abril 20, 2017

British MPs are preparing to vote in the Commons after Theresa May called for a general election to be held in June.

A majority of 522 members of the House, predominantly Conservative and Labour MPs voted to call the election against 13 noes on Wednesday afternoon.

There were calls for TV broadcasters to "empty chair" Theresa May in election-time leaders' debates, after sources close to the Prime Minister indicated she will refuse to take part.

May has on multiple occasions ruled out holding an election before 2020 but on Tuesday said that she needed "to strengthen our hand in European Union negotiations", claiming opposition parties were "frustrating" the Brexit process.

"On June 8th we must secure a strong mandate for our Prime Minister in her negotiations to Build a Better Britain".

Britain joins a list of western European countries scheduled to hold elections this year.

"She told the House of Commons: "[Jeremy] Corbyn, [Tim] Farron and [Nicola] Sturgeon want to unite together to divide our country, and we will not let them do it".

The Labour party has seen a significant decline in polls since the last general election, as it struggles with infighting over its leader Jeremy Corbyn, and its unclear position on Brexit.

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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.

Asking voters to put their trust in her to deliver a good Brexit deal, the Prime Minister warned voters that backing Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP would wreck the UK's exit from the European Union.

"The election gives the British people the chance to change direction", he said. "It is important in parliament that people are able to challenge what the Government is doing, that there is proper debate and scrutiny, and that's what there will be".

An early election would therefore be the fourth big vote in four years starting with the general election of 2015.

Following considerable wrangling over formats, the 2015 election campaign saw one debate featuring Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg alongside Labour's Ed Miliband and leaders of Ukip, the Scottish National Party, Greens and Plaid Cymru, as well as a second debate with the five non-coalition parties and programmes in which Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg and Mr Miliband answered questions but did not debate face-to-face.

"We think it is very much in their interest that peak time debates go ahead".

Government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone Tuesday with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Despite criticism of May among MPs, current opinion polls give the ruling Conservatives their strongest lead in years. "We welcome the general election but this is a prime minister who promised there wouldn't be one, a prime minister who can not be trusted", he told the Commons on Wednesday. President of the European Council Donald Tusk tweeted that he had a "good phone call" with May on the upcoming elections, before tweeting a more cryptic message reading "It was Hitchcock, who directed Brexit: first an natural disaster and the tension rises".

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