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Published: Sun, April 30, 2017
World | By Tasha Manning

British Parliament backs PM's call for June general election over 'Brexit'

British Parliament backs PM's call for June general election over 'Brexit'

Antonio Tajani, an Italian who recently replaced German veteran Martin Schulz as the worldwide representative of the key EU institution, said he was optimistic the prime minister would respect all existing rights enjoyed by European citizens because she wanted the same in return for British citizens in the rest of Europe.

Last year's vote to leave the European Union split Labour's traditional supporter base, which is divided between typically pro-EU inner city voters, and working-class voters in less affluent areas who voted in favour of Brexit.

PM May is now an unelected leader, appointed to the role in an internal, Conservative party leadership contest following the post-Brexit resignation of her predecessor David Cameron.

In fiery exchanges in the House of Commons yesterday, Mrs May said an early election would strengthen her hand against domestic critics seeking to "frustrate the process" of Brexit, which formally began last month.

May caught the country - and most political commentators - off guard with her call for an election, to secure political "unity" as the country prepares for detailed negotiations on exiting the European Union (EU).

May said on Tuesday she had been reluctant to bring forward an election that was scheduled to take place in 2020, but had decided it was necessary to stop the opposition jeopardizing her work on Brexit.

But current opinion polls suggest that Mrs May will lead her party to a position of greater strength in parliament, and that Labour will suffer deep losses.

He sought to frame the election as a battle between the "establishment versus the people" - on issues such as the economy, jobs, schools, hospitals - rather than just Brexit.

May told The Sun newspaper that if Britain was still negotiating with the bloc in the run-up to a national election, "the Europeans might have seen that as a time of weakness when they could push us".

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The governing Conservative Party now has a narrow majority of 17 seats in the House of Commons.

It gives the prime minister the two-thirds majority she needed to overturn the fixed-term Parliaments Act, passed by the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition in 2011, without which no general election could have been held until 2020.

Theresa May said that Jeremy Corbyn was not fit to lead, but faced criticism over her refusal to take part in TV debates.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May arrives to speak to the media outside her official residence of 10 Downing Street in London, Tuesday April 18, 2017.

The opposition Labour Party and Liberal Democrats welcomed the chance to put their policies to voters, though the Scottish National Party called the election a cynical political ploy.

"In the base case, the United Kingdom government would have the parliamentary majority to push through hard decisions to seal a deal", they said.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May on March 13.

The same analysis projects a 76 per cent chance of a Conservative parliamentary majority, and just a 5 per cent chance of a Labour majority.

By contrast Labour is wracked by divisions, over Brexit and Corbyn's left-wing leadership, which is opposed by many of his more centrist MPs.

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