British parliament approves May’s plan for snap election on June 8
Lawmakers in parliament’s elected house, the Commons, voted by 522 to 13 in favour of May’s motion to hold the general election, comfortably exceeding the two-thirds majority required.
Addressing parliament in the debate ahead of the vote, May said she hopes electors will give her a stronger mandate to implement Brexit.
She accused political opponents of “trying to frustrate the process” of Brexit, stressing that she wants to ease political divisions over Britain’s departure from the European Union.
“A general election will provide the country with five years of strong and stable leadership to see us through the [Brexit] negotiations and make sure we are able to make a success of the result,” May told the lawmakers.
She defended her claim that her opponents want to delay or overturn Brexit, saying she supports debate, but must uphold the will of the 52-per-cent majority of British people who voted last year to leave the EU.
She said it was clear that the Scottish National Party and other opposition parties “want to use this house to try to frustrate that process.”
May also confirmed that she will not join any televised debate with her opponents during the election campaigning. However, she said she will be “out there campaigning in every part of the United Kingdom.”
The main opposition parties welcomed May’s surprise announcement on Tuesday and said they would vote for her motion to hold an election on June 8.
May said she had decided “reluctantly” that an election was needed after earlier ruling out any such polls before 2020.
She promised voters “a choice between strong, stable leadership in the national interest, with me as your prime minister, or weak and unstable coalition government.”
In Brussels on Wednesday, a spokesman for the European Commission said negotiations with Britain on Brexit would begin after the general election on June 8.
“The president [of the European Commission] considers that the real political negotiations on Article 50 with the United Kingdom will start after the elections foreseen for the 8th of June,” said European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas.
Previously, the EU had said that talks could begin after May 22, by which point all EU member states are expected to have signed off on the EU’s negotiating mandate for the Brexit discussions.
The German government also said it believes the Brexit negotiations should be unaffected by May’s plans for a snap election.
Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by telephone with May after the June election announcement, German government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said.
“The federal government is assuming that the negotiations can be continued undisturbed,” Demmer said.