United Kingdom prime minister defends decision to seek snap election

Earlier, under electoral law, May must win a two thirds majority in a parliamentary vote due to be held later on Wednesday before she can officially call an early election.

"I think it's surprising the Prime Minister called the election at this time because previously she has said she wants to go until 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'.

She said: "Yes, Labour is ready for a General Election".

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.

May has told the House of Commons that holding a vote in June, rather than as scheduled in 2020, will give the country "certainty and stability" as it negotiates its departure from the European Union.

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.

Announcing her intention to call for a vote, May said "The country is coming together but Westminster is not".

"I think it is right now to ask the British people, to put their trust in me and the Conservative Party to deliver on their vote previous year a Brexit plan that will make a success for this country and deliver a stronger, fairer global Britain in the future".

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Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron dismissed the PM's claims as "nonsense" and said she only wanted an election to secure an increased majority.

"Sinn Féin opposed Brexit because it will be disastrous for the people of Ireland, our economy and our public services", she said.

All sides are now gearing up for the fourth major election in four years, after last June's shock referendum vote for Brexit, the 2015 general election, and the 2014 Scottish independence vote.

At Prime Minister's Questions the Scottish National Party's leader in the Commons, Angus Robertson asked: "If the Prime Minister is so confident of her hard-Brexit, pro-austerity, anti-immigration case, why won't she debate opposition leaders?"

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.

"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".

A European Commission spokesman said the "real political" negotiations on Brexit will start after the election.

She said she was confident of reaching a deal in that time frame. 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 quake and the tension rises".

The Prime Minister said Labour's economic policies would mean it is "ordinary working people who pay the price".

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