Theresa May’s call for a snap general election has been approved by MPs by a margin of 522 to 13, far above the two-thirds majority required.
The Prime Minster, who previously repeatedly stated that she would not call an election, has claimed that the mandate a victory would grant will strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations along with providing certainty in the future.
Whilst both Labour and the Liberal Democrats voted in favour of the election, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn accused Ms May of changing her mind and breaking faith on a variety of issues since she became Conservative leader. The next general election was set for 2020, but the Fixed Term Parliaments Act allows for one to be held earlier if it has the support of two-thirds of MPs.
Speaking in defence of the measure, Mrs May told the assembled MPs that the remaining time before the Brexit negotiations in June was a “window of opportunity” to poll the public mood and provide the “strong leadership” she argued was necessary during the negotiations and it was the “right and responsible” thing to do hold the election now in order to provide “five years of stability and certainty” whilst preparing the UK for life outside the EU.
The SNP stood apart from the other mainstream parties, accusing Ms May of political opportunism in the timing of the vote, but did not actively block it, choosing instead to abstain. Nine Labour MPs opposed the snap election alongside three independents and the SDLP’s Alisdair McDonnell. Mrs May has said she will not take part in any TV leaders’ debates, leading to criticism from Mr Corbyn and other party leaders that she is “running scared”.