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United Kingdom prime minister defends decision to seek snap election

"So it's rather odd that only a couple of hours after calling for a General Election, the Prime Minister is saying she's not going to take part in TV debates". A landslide for the Tories could see them wrestle up to 56 seats away from the opposition, thus giving the Conservatives total control of the House of Commons.

During the debate, held on Wednesday afternoon in the House of Commons, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn reminded the prime minister that she had previously stated emphatically that there wouldn't be a general election until 2020. Brexit will likely dominate the campaign agenda, with many perceiving the election as a vote on May's Brexit leadership.

The announcement marked a U-turn for May, who had repeatedly said she would not seek an early vote.

And he told MPs: "We welcome the opportunity of a general election because it gives the British people the chance to vote for a Labour government that will put the interests of the majority first".

It will also give the next government five years to sort out Brexit and its aftermath, rather than have a general election just a year after Brexit is concluded.

This will be the backdrop upon which Brexit talks begin, as the clock on the two-year deadline for negotiations began ticking on March 29, when May officially filed divorce papers to Brussels. There followed a well-worn argument over schools and NHS/social care funding, before May reprised her speech from Monday, saying that every vote for the Tories would strengthen her hand in the Brexit negotiations and make it harder for those who wanted to stop her getting the job done.

Instead of being a prime minister who took office by default, she would have her own electoral mandate that will allow her to push a Brexit deal through parliament.

Though May has been cautious in detailing her Brexit aspirations, traders think a big victory for her in the election could give her ammunition in dealing with those within her own Conservative Party who are urging a complete, "hard" divorce from the European Union - even if that means new tariffs and an exclusion from the bloc's huge single market.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) has signalled its MPs will abstain in the vote and Labour and the Liberal Democrats, while accusing May of political opportunism, have welcomed the prospect of an early election.

Now that lawmakers have approved the election, Parliament will be dissolved on May 2. "If you want to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit".

Rather than Corbyn, the biggest challenge is likely to come from the Liberal Democrats, the pro-EU party that was nearly wiped out at the last election in 2015 after serving for five years in a coalition government led by May's predecessor.

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said that, for May, calling the election is "the political equivalent of taking candy from a baby".

Mrs May indicated that Conservative candidates will be expected to sign up to her election manifesto in full, putting pressure on remaining Europhiles within her party to toe the line. At a recent parliamentary by-election, the Conservative Party captured the northern seat of Copeland from Labour, becoming the first governing party since 1878 to make a comparable gain.

"With a larger majority, it seems more likely that whatever deal Mrs May eventually negotiates with the rest of the European Union will be rubber-stamped by Parliament". In terms of the June elections, the Lib Dems could benefit from disaffected pro-EU Labour voters and those who seek a "soft Brexit" that would keep the United Kingdom in the European single market.

The UK prime minister formally triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and European Union officials say they do not expect the election to make any difference to the timing of talks.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood - whose profile received a major boost from her involvement in two of the 2015 broadcasts - said: "Theresa May should be empty chaired if she doesn't show up to any planned TV debates".

"We won't be doing television debates", May said, adding that politicians should spend election campaigns "out and about" meeting voters.