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May wins House of Commons backing for snap general election

Editor: zhangrui 丨Xinhua

04-20-2017 06:44 BJT

LONDON, April 19 (Xinhua) -- Members of Parliament (MPs) in the British House of Commons gave their backing Wednesday to Prime Minister Theresa May's call for a snap general election on June 8.

MPs voted by 522 votes to 13 to support the election which May sees as a mandate for her strategy for Britain leaving the European Union (EU).

As the measure does not need approval from the House of Lords, the process of dissolving parliament next month in advance of the election will get underway.

Under current legislation, parliaments have to sit for five years before new elections take place. A two-thirds majority of MPs must agree to a move that will shorten the lifespan of a parliament. As the last general election took place just two years ago, the vote was crucial for May.

She passed the required minimum needed of 434 MPs in support, after opposition MPs, mainly from Labour and the Liberal Democrats, voted in favor of an election.

May has already won approval from Queen Elizabeth for the snap election.

MPs, the PM said, have a window of opportunity to hold a general election before negotiations with the EU begin. May added that securing the "right deal" with Brussels for Britain is her priority.

Downing Street said the June election will not affect May's Brexit timetable.

May told MPs the upcoming snap election will be about leadership and stability, saying: "I will be asking for the public's support to deliver my plan for a stronger Britain. The choice before us is clear: to trust the people and then let the public decide."

She said a general election will provide Britain with five years of strong and stable leadership to see the country through its negotiations with the EU to make sure "we are able to make a success of the EU referendum result."

"Britain is leaving the EU and there can be no turning back," asserted the British PM.

Critics of an early election accuse May of taking advantage of low ratings for the main opposition Labour Party. May has been insisting until days ago that she had no intention of calling an early election. Some opinion polls have put Labour more than 20 points behind the Conservatives.

May will be going into the election holding 330 of the 650 seats in the House of Commons, with a working majority of 17. The main opposition Labour Party has 229 seats, but many of the party's MPs are estranged from their leader Jeremy Corbyn.

May and her Brexit ministers face tough negotiations with Brussels to agree a deal for Britain after it leaves the EU.

In her speech on Tuesday at the door of 10 Downing Street, May made it clear why she wanted an early election.

She said: "At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity in Westminster, but instead there is division. The country is coming together, but Westminster is not."

"Our opponents believe that because the government's majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course. They are wrong," she said.

There has been widespread public support for Monday's decision, while political experts have given mixed responses.

Professor Martin Smith, head of the University of York's Department of Politics, said: "With a large Conservative majority, the government will be able to get through any Brexit deal. Of course, there are going to be several difficulties for the Conservatives in the election campaign including the impact on Scotland and the potential for a second referendum, and a focus in the campaign on what sort of post-EU Britain the Conservatives want."

Senior lecturer in politics at the University of York, Dr. Sofia Vasilopoulou, said: "It is a good opportunity to put Conservative party divisions on ice in the interest of winning the general election. The election will be dominated by Brexit, and the Labour Party will have to finally clarify its position."


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