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UK parliament approves June 8 general election

21 April 2017

The snap election caps a tumultuous few years in British politics that has seen two historic referendums-one on Brexit, one on Scottish independence-and a prime ministerial resignation.

May has repeatedly said she does not want to be distracted by time-consuming campaigning - but opinion polls give her a strong lead, the economy is weathering the Brexit vote and she has faced opposition from her own party for some of her domestic reforms.

Britain's parliament has voted by 522 to 13 in favour of Prime Minister Theresa May's plan to hold an early national election.

May, Britain's second female prime minister, also has strong popular support for her handling of the political natural disaster unleashed by Brexit.

Fifty per cent said they would vote Conservative, 25pc Labour, 11pc Liberal Democrats, 4pc Ukip and 68pc said they would vote the same as they did in the previous election.

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She said a general election will provide Britain with five years of strong and stable leadership to see the country through its negotiations with the European Union to make sure "we are able to make a success of the European Union referendum result".

"That would be in nobody's interest", May said.

If MPs approve the vote, Parliament is expected to be dissolved on May 3, as British law mandates the dissolution must happen 25 working days before a general election. Its lawmakers abstained during Wednesday's vote.

Mr Corbyn said the election "gives the British people the chance to vote for a Labour government that will put the interests of the majority first".

With May seen winning a new five-year mandate and boosting her majority in parliament by perhaps 100 seats, the pound held close to six-and-a-half month highs on hopes she may be able to clinch a smoother, more phased departure from the European Union and minimize damage to the United Kingdom economy.

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May's Conservatives have 330 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons and are polling well ahead of Labour, the main Opposition party.

Owen Paterson, who represents North Shropshire, said he had supported the vote because a general election victory would strengthen Theresa May's hand in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.

Angus Robertson, leader of the SNP in Westminster, said May had changed her mind because she now realised the Brexit discussions were going to be much harder than Eurosceptics had imagined. The Lib Dems now have just nine seats in Parliament.

Justifying the decision to call the election, Mrs May said: "The country is coming together but Westminster is not".

May surprised allies and opponents on Tuesday when she announced her plan to bring forward an election that was not due until 2020. "They're quite right I don't", he said in extracts of his speech released beforehand.

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May told The Sun newspaper that if Britain were 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".