How opposing parties and the public reacted to May’s surprise general election announcement

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Yesterday morning, in a speech that the public was given notice of by Downing Street not long before it was made, Theresa May announced she was calling for a general election on June 8.

The prime minister stated that in order to ensure a stronger ‘mandate’ to lead Britain out of the EU, a general election was needed. She strongly accused opposition parties of threatening to undermine her negotiations with the EU; in an interview today with Nick Robinson from ‘Today’, the prime minister said that the Lib Dems “said they wanted to grind government to a standstill” and that “Labour said they might vote against the final deal.”

The reactions:

Many from the public and opposition parties accused the prime minister of calling the election for political motives, rather than in the interest of the country, as May’s decision comes suddenly, and after she has repeatedly stated she would not call an early general election.

Labour – Jeremy Corbyn

Jeremy Corbyn said yesterday that he welcomes the early general election. The leader of the opposition said that the current government has “failed to rebuild the economy” and that the election is a chance to “vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first”. Some, like the Guardian’s Owen Jones, predict that the ‘grassroots army’ Corbyn has amassed amongst Labour voters, including the large numbers that voted for him in the leadership election, will make the difference as to the outcome of the election come June 8.

Liberal Democrats – Tim Farron

Leader of the Lib Dem’s Tim Farron said in a statement yesterday that the election would give voters an opportunity to block ‘a disastrous hard Brexit’. Even with most polls putting the Lib Dem’s well behind the Tories and the Labour Party amongst voters, the Lib Dem’s have secured victories in local elections recently, raising hopes for voter support in this upcoming general election.

The European Union

A spokesman for Donald Tusk, the European Council president who has spoke frankly of his opinion on the UK’s future ever since the Brexit vote, said yesterday that the general election would not change the future plans regarding EU members.

Donald Tusk himself tweeted a strangely ominous sentiment, saying that ‘It was Hitchcock who who directed Brexit – first an earthquake and the tension rises.’

SNP – Nicola Sturgeon

Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon criticised Theresa May’s decision yesterday, saying that the PM was “once again putting the interests of her party ahead of those of the country”. Many critics have predicted that the early general election increases the chances of a Scottish independence vote.

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The Papers

The newspapers, meanwhile, have taken to a reaction of either criticising May’s position and ‘U-turn’ on the general election, or portraying her as crushing the opposition.

The Commons today voted by 522 votes to 13 in favour of a general election , passing the two-thirds majority needed to bring forward the election from 2020. The general election vote will be held on June 8.

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