Theresa May: Early general election will strengthen Government's Brexit negotiating hand

The British prime minister easily cleared the hurdle needed under the Fixed Term Parliament Act to bring the poll forward from the scheduled date of 2020.

"It's about providing the strong and stable leadership this country needs to take Britain through Brexit and beyond, it's about strengthening our hand in the negotiations that lie ahead".

May shot back by saying she had "been answering his questions and debating these matters every Wednesday parliament has been sitting since I became PM".

But Mr Corbyn dismissed her argument that she needs a fresh mandate to deliver Brexit, and said it was "extremely interesting" that she had chosen to call an election as the Crown Prosecution Service prepares to decide whether to press charges against a string of Tory MPs over allegations relating to 2015 general election expenses.

But, while May is trying to focus the election debate on Brexit, Corbyn is looking to harness the powerful anti-establishment mood revealed by the European Union referendum, which has roots stretching back to the 2007-9 financial crisis.

Britain will go to the polls on June 8 after MPs cleared the way for an early general election in a House of Commons vote praised by Theresa May as "the right decision" in the national interest.

She has also played up the strength of the economy, which has so far defied predictions of a slowdown - a key campaign theme that her Conservative Party will use to try to undermine Labour in the election.

She portrayed the election as a choice between five years of stability and strong leadership under the Conservatives and a "coalition of chaos" under Jeremy Corbyn's Labour, propped up by the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party (SNP).

But after ITV confirmed it would host a leaders' debate and a senior BBC journalist said the corporation would not let a single politician stop a programme which was in the public interest, it is understood that Mrs May is now open to the idea of a Q&A session.

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The European Union's executive says that Brexit negotiations will start after the snap election in Britain that the prime minister is calling for in June.

The German government says that it doesn't expect a British election in June to hold up talks on Britain's exit from the European Union. "There is only one route to the prime minister losing a general election and it is a Lib Dem route".

Elmar Brok, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel's center-right Christian Democrats, told Germany's ARD television Wednesday that May could derive from a new, stronger mandate an "ability to compromise". "The public want us to actually deliver on leaving the European Union and they want us to build that stronger Britain for the future, beyond leaving the European Union".

Theresa May defended her decision to call the poll saying she "reluctantly" changed her mind in recent weeks.

Brok said that could help "so that we can conduct the negotiations professionally in the next 1 ½ years to reach a sensible result that reduces the damage". "I hope the former will be the case". He added: "If it isn't a triumphant success, it will be to some extent a personal failure".

The prime minister shocked Westminster on Tuesday with the surprise announcement that she would seek an early election.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn was the first to mention the decision, opening his remarks by saying: "We welcome the general election, but this is a prime minister who promised there wouldn't be one, a PM who can not be trusted".

She said that "Brexit isn't just about the letter that says we want to leave. It's about ... getting the right deal from Europe", May said. The Lib Dems now have just nine seats in Parliament.

A YouGov survey for The Times on Monday gave the Conservatives a huge 21 point lead over Labour.

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