CNN news 2017-05-17
In Britain or the U.K., general elections are scheduled to take place every five years. The last one happened in 2015, the next was initially scheduled for 2020. But yesterday, an unexpected move was made. British Prime Minister Theresa May said the government would try to hold a snap election, an early election, on June 8th of this year. This is legal in Britain and has been done before.
But Prime Minister May had said previously that she wouldn't call for an early election. The reason she did — political disagreements in Westminster, which is the Washington, D.C. of Britain.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: At this point of enormous national significance, there should be unity here in Westminster. But instead, there is division. The country is coming together, but Westminster is not.
AZUZ: The moment of national significance she referred to is the Brexit, the British exit from the European Union. Last summer, British voters approved separating from the union by a margin of about 52 percent to 48 percent.
The process has begun. It's a long one, with a lot of negotiations. It's expected to take two years. The nation's deeply divided over it in exactly how the Brexit should be carried out.
That brings us to Prime Minister May. Her political party, the Conservative Party, has a majority in Britain's parliament, but it's a small one. And the parties that opposed it had been complicating the conservatives' Brexit plans, though most British lawmakers say they will go through with the Brexit.
By calling for early elections, what the prime minister is hoping is that her party will gain seats to show it has the support of the British people, and that could strengthen its strategy for the Brexit.
It appears that Prime Minister May does have the support she wants. Her personal approval ratings are high, and her party is expected to win more seats in the vote. Opposition parties say they welcome the early election decision. It's put the country in the full throttle election mood.
MAY: We agree that the government should call a general election to be held on the 8th of June.
NIC ROBERTSON, cnn INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The one thing you need to know about Theresa May's announcement of a snap election on June the 8th is that she wants to have a stronger hand in the Brexit negotiations. She says that the opposition parties, Labour, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party in Scotland are all working to undermine unity in Westminster. She also criticized the House of Lords, saying they were doing the same.
Theresa May's critics however say that she is not working in the national interests, that she is, in fact, working to strengthen the position of the conservative party. Polls, if they're to be believed, and they've been notoriously unreliable in recent years, indicate that her party is doing well over the Labour Party.
What Theresa May says she wants to do is to avoid arriving towards the end and the toughest part of the Brexit negotiations, at the same time, the country is preparing for general elections. This is widely seen as an attempt by Theresa May to force her way with a hard Brexit.