UK prime minister defends decision to seek snap election

Both Sturgeon's Scottish Nationalists and the Liberal Democrats want Britain to remain in the EU's single market - something May has ruled out, along with a referendum on any deal she wins.

Riding high in the opinion polls, May is seeking to increase her slim majority of 17 in the 650-seat Commons before the battles begin with the European Union over Britain's exit bill and future trade and immigration ties.

"The prospect of a more secure parliamentary majority for the Government has lifted sterling and caused the FTSE 100 to fall".

ITV has confirmed it will host a leaders' debate during the general election campaign, despite Theresa May's insistence that she will not take part. Her team suggested she would have more room to make compromises with the European Union without the pressure of facing voters in 2020.

To be sure, the Conservatives are unlikely to win more than 50% of the vote.

The timing of a Conservative victory would prove highly opportune for May.

In Bolton, Mrs May said the country now has a "unity of purpose" and a desire for the Government to "get on" with implementing Brexit and "making a success of it".

Two EU agencies employing more than 1,000 in London will definitely move to the continent, despite United Kingdom attempts to keep them after Brexit, officials say.

But there are risks to May's strategy.

There were passionate exchanges during Prime Minister's Question Time.

She said that waiting until 2020 would mean the "most sensitive" part of the two-year Brexit negotiations would come during the run-up to an election.

"A general election is the best way to strengthen Britain's hand in the negotiation". She has issued similar, seemingly ironclad assurances ever since.

The prime minister is hoping to significantly boost her current Commons majority of 17 to increase her authority, ahead of 18 months of talks which will determine the manner of the UK's exit from the EU. If anything, the knowledge that she had scope to compromise would weaken it.

By cynically breaking her promises, May could badly erode the public's trust in her.

Virtually all of 330 current Tory MPs voted for an election in less than seven weeks, not surprising given the party is now enjoying a massive lead over Labour in the polls. Labour, on the other hand sought to play on the U-turn made by Ms.

During the debate that followed, Speaker John Bercow was forced to intervene as Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron was heckled with cries of "Yes or no?" after declining to state whether his party would consider entering another coalition with the Conservatives. And, lastly, one can not discount the possibility that a new centrist party will emerge before June.

Before the campaign can formally begin, May needs lawmakers to vote by a two-thirds majority to dissolve Parliament and hold an election on June 8, three years earlier than scheduled.

The outcome of the general election is likely to become clear in the early hours of the next morning.

May is also taking a much bigger gamble with the survival of the UK.

"There will be no second referendum", May told the BBC.

May's position on Scotland is scarcely tenable.

"I think it is right now to ask the British people, to put their trust in me and the Conservative Party to deliver on their vote past year a Brexit plan that will make a success for this country and deliver a stronger, fairer global Britain in the future".

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