British MPs overwhelmingly approve general election

Voters there will now go to the polls on June 8th

British MPs overwhelmingly approve general election

British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London | Image: PA/PA Wire/PA Images

British MPs have backed Prime Minister Theresa May's call for an early election, meaning UK voters will go to the polls on June 8th.

They voted 522 to 13 to authorise an early poll, with Mrs May easily securing the support of two-thirds of MPs required to dissolve the parliament and bring the election forward from the scheduled date of 2020.

The House of Commons vote was a formality, given both UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron had previously said they welcomed the election, although Scottish National Party MPs abstained.

A spokesman for Mrs May said the British government was aiming to dissolve parliament on May 3rd - 25 working days before election day.

Opening the debate on the motion to authorise the snap poll, Mrs May said it was time "put our fate in the hands of the people and let the people decide".

She claimed a large Conservative majority would strengthen the government's hand in getting a good Brexit deal and provide "strong and stable leadership in the national interest".

"We are determined to bring stability to the United Kingdom for the long term and that's what this election will be about - leadership and stability," Mrs May told MPs.

"The decision facing the country will be clear.

"I will be campaigning for strong and stable leadership in the national interest with me as Prime Minister and I will be asking for the public's support to continue to deliver my plan for a stronger Britain, to lead the country for the next five years and to give the certainty and stability that we need."

But Mr Corbyn said the election was an opportunity for voters to pass judgement on the Tories' record on austerity, cuts to the National Health Service and schools, child poverty and a crisis in housing.

He dismissed Mrs May's argument that she needs a fresh mandate to deliver Brexit, and said it was "extremely interesting" she had called for an election as the Crown Prosecution Service decides whether to press charges against a number of Tory MPs over allegations relating to 2015 election expenses.

British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London | Image: PA/PA Wire/PA Images

Reaction

Mrs May announced on Tuesday that she wanted to call the election less than a month after she invoked Article 50, beginning the formal process for the UK to leave the EU.

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the election call as "a huge political miscalculation by the Prime Minister".

Mrs May has also ruled out taking part in TV debates as part of the election campaign, telling the BBC she believed in "getting out and about and meeting voters" and "knocking on doors".

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach said on Tuesday: "This is [Mrs May's] prerogative and is now a matter for the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.

"This is about Government make up in Britain, the Brexit decision stands and will have to be negotiated in the process set out."

The spokesperson added that Ireland will "continue to represent our interests on Brexit which have not changed".

Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan spoke with Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire yesterday.

Mr Flanagan said: "This announcement does not change the Government's commitment to ensuring the best possible outcome for Ireland in the upcoming Brexit negotiations where we will negotiate from a position of strength as one of the EU 27.

"I am of course concerned about the impact of a UK general election on the ongoing talks' process in Northern Ireland and I conveyed these when I spoke with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland".