UK prime minister defends decision to seek snap election

If Labour sticks to local issues, while May keeps "banging on about Europe"-as the much-reviled, Tory right-wingers are notorious for doing-the prime minister could find her support among the middle classes ebbing away".

Government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone Tuesday with British Prime Minister Theresa May.

May repeated her reasons for calling the mid-term poll, insisting that opposition parties and the House of Lords were allegedly a hurdle to her government securing a good deal for Britain from Brussels.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn threw down the gauntlet to the Prime Minister to agree to televised debates, which he said were "what democracy needs and what the British people deserve".

Corbyn accused the government of "broken promises" on health, education and the economy during its seven years in office. We have set that process in motion, there is no turning back.

The result easily surpassed the two-thirds majority of the 650 lawmakers needed to trigger an early vote.

May is expected to win the vote, and wants to hold an election on June 8.

Addressing a rowdy parliament, she said moving the election would avoid a clash of priorities in the most sensitive final stages of the two-year talks, ignoring criticism from opposition politicians that she was opportunistic and untrustworthy.

Then yesterday, after the Easter bank holiday, she called a snap general election for June 8 of this year.

"Following their conversation, the president considers that the real political negotiations on Article 50 with the United Kingdom will start after the elections foreseen for the 8th of June", the spokesman said, referring to the European Union treaty rule that regulates the exit of a member state from the bloc.

There have been calls for TV broadcasters to "empty chair" Mrs May in election-time leaders' debates if she refuses to take part. She's nearly certain to win the motion given that opposition legislators also support an early election.

Despite getting backing from Corbyn, voting figures suggest that many Labour MPs chose to abstain, as 174 Labour MPs out of 229 voted in favour.

Several Labour MPs have already announced they will not contest their seats, including veteran frontbencher Alan Johnson. Former Conservative finance minister George Osborne, a powerful voice in favor of Britain's European Union membership during the referendum campaign, also said he would not seek re-election.

Alex Massie in The Spectator believes the general election will first and foremost be a vote on Scottish independence, saying "May can not win a mandate for herself while then denying a mandate to the party that wins the Scottish portion of this election".

But for Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, the move was a "huge political miscalculation" that could help the Scottish National Party's efforts to hold an independence vote. "With this in mind, it's sensible for investors to ignore the short-term noise created by the election and to focus on their longer-term goals".

The pound rallied on speculation that May will be returned with a stronger mandate, but this caused London's FTSE 100 index - which features many multinationals earning in dollars - to fall.

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