Theresa May Seeks UK Snap Election

by Natasha Guzmán
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images News/Getty Images

On Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Theresa May called for an snap election to be held in June. Given May's prior opposition to the idea of an early general election, the announcement came as a shock to the political world. “We need a general election and we need one now,” she said in a statement given outside Downing Street. “I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion, Since I became prime minister I have said that there should be no election until 2020, but now, I have concluded it is the only way to guarantee certainty for the years ahead.”

May went on to argue that the government needs to move forward with negotiations with the European Union over Brexit details — and that political opposition has stymied her efforts to do so. The United Kingdom is still a part of the EU, and the formal separation is predicted to take at least two years. “The country is coming together but Westminster is not," she said. "Labour have threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach. The Lib Dems have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill. Unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way.”

May has repeatedly stated that the Brexit decision is final, and that no association with the EU can be continued. “We seek a new and equal partnership — between an independent, self-governing, global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU,” she said in her January Brexit speech. “Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half in, half out.”

At least two thirds of the House of Commons' members of parliament would have to vote in favor of an early election for it to take place. The Conservative Party currently holds a slim majority of 330 members out of 650. Though Brexit is a divisive issue among Conservatives, it does still have significant support within the party.

May's opponents, such as Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, expressed approval the move for an early election. "I welcome the Prime Minister's decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first," he said.

The House of Commons will be voting on the matter on Wednesday. If approved, general elections will take place on June 8.