Theresa May has called a snap general election to be held on 8 June, despite repeatedly claiming she was against the idea of an early vote.
In a surprise statement outside Downing street, the prime minister said: “After the country voted to leave the EU, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership. Since I became prime minister the government has delivered precisely that.”
She claimed Labour and the other opposition parties had opposed her. “The country is coming together but Westminster is not. 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 said she was laying down a motion in the House of Commons that will require two-thirds of MPs to back it.
The announcement came as a huge surprise, causing massive speculation on Tuesday morning.
Robert Hayward, the Conservative peer and election expert, said: “This is a massive surprise to everyone but the very closest confidants, even in the Tory party. There will be many very worried Labour MPs and some pleased Lib Dem candidates.”