Theresa May is on course to win a majority of more than 100 in a June snap election, with Labour’s pro-Brexit voters deserting Jeremy Corbyn, according to polling data for The Times. The prime minister ripped up her promise not to hold an election before 2020 yesterday. In a surprise announcement on the steps of Downing Street, she urged voters to hand her a Brexit mandate before formal talks with Brussels began. The pound surged to a six-month high as the markets bet on the prospect of a softer Brexit, with experts claiming that a bigger majority would leave Mrs May less exposed to “right-wing factions” within her party.
Theresa May has shocked the country by going back on months of promises and calling for a general election as Britain heads into one of the most uncertain periods in its recent history. The Prime Minister stood at the steps of 10 Downing Street and said only an election would ensure both that her opponents cannot derail Brexit and that Britain’s position is strong in talks with the European Union. The Commons will vote on her plan on Wednesday, but polls already predict a substantial election victory for the Tories and a drubbing for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour. With her starting position looking stronger than any other party leader’s for decades, Ms May’s team felt confident enough to announce she would not take part in any live TV debates during the election campaign.
JEREMY CORBYN welcomed yesterday’s announcement of a snap general election on June 8, saying it was an opportunity for a Labour government to put the interests of the majority of people first. The political party with the largest membership in Europe has 50 days to campaign for a win. Prime Minister Theresa May made her announcement without the usual prior briefing to journalists. It represents a remarkable U-turn in the light of her previous insistence that she had no intention of holding a general election before the scheduled 2020 poll. She claimed that divisions at Westminster risked hampering the Brexit negotiations and that she wanted “unity.” The government has a majority of just 17 MPs. Ms May admitted that she needs a stronger position in the Commons to secure her plans for Britain’s future outside the EU.
Two Labour MPs have said they will not contest June’s snap general election as the party faces the possibility of its worst general election result since before the Second World War. Tom Blenkinsop said he would stand down from his Middlesbrough South seat due to “significant and irreconcilable differences with the current Labour leadership”, while former shadow chancellor Alan Johnson also said he would not stand and that it would be “best for the party” for him to quit. The MPs’ announcements come as a uniform swing calculation based on the electoral calculus model found Jeremy Corbyn’s party could be left with just 157 seats, down from 232 in 2015. This would be the party’s smallest haul of seats since 1935, when it still competed with the Liberal Party, the National Liberal Party, National Labour and the Independent Labour Party for opposition. In that year Labour won 154 seats; at its historic 1983 defeat it won 209.
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage is expected to stand in June’s snap general election, potentially marking his eighth attempt to capture a parliamentary seat. In 2015 he unsuccessfully campaigned in South Thanet, in Kent, receiving 32.4 per cent of the vote. The party’s current leader, Paul Nuttall, told Channel 4 News: “I suspect Nigel Farage will stand.” Ukip is going into the surprise election with no MPs, after Douglas Carswell resigned from the party last month to sit as an independent in Clacton. Donor Arron Banks has announced he will stand against Mr Carswell, though it was not clear which party he would represent. In February Mr Nuttall also failed in his attempt to beat Labour in the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election. On his LBC radio show on Tuesday Mr Farage was cagier than Mr Nuttall, and said he would decide “over the next couple of days” whether to stand in the polls on 8 June.
Brexit campaign leader Nigel Farage has said he will decide whether or not he will stand in Britain’s upcoming election over “the next couple of days” while speaking on his regular LBC radio show. The veteran MEP said that part of him wanted to throw himself into the campaign, but speculated that he might be better placed to scrutinise the Brexit negotiations from the European Parliament, which will play a large role in the proceedings. “I haven’t walked away [and] I haven’t gone away”, he assured listeners, pledging that he would continue to fight to see Brexit delivered whatever he decides.
Nicola Sturgeon has accused Theresa May of using a snap general election as a chance to “move the UK to the right” and force through deeper spending cuts. Sturgeon said the prime minister’s decision was a “huge political miscalculation” because it would give voters an opportunity to reject Conservative austerity and a hard Brexit, and give the Scottish National party a new mandate for an independence referendum. “She is clearly betting that the Tories can win a bigger majority in England given the utter disarray in the Labour party,” she said. “That means that this will be – more than ever before – an election about standing up for Scotland in the face of a rightwing, austerity-obsessed Tory government with no mandate in Scotland but which now thinks it can do whatever it wants and get away with it.” In a tweet responding to the prime minister’s shock election announcement, Sturgeon called on Scottish voters to reject the Conservatives.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has branded Theresa May’s call for a snap General Election as ‘one of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history’. Scotland’s First Minister’s brazen attack on the Prime Minister comes after she herself called for a SECOND referendum on Scottish independence despite her own party calling the first Indy vote a ‘once in a lifetime’ election. Sturgeon branded the shock announcement as a “huge political miscalculation” as May slammed the SNP for trying to derail Britain’s historic exit from the troubled European Union. During her announcement outside Number 10 today, May said: “The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union.”
The insurance millionaire and former Ukip donor Arron Banks has said he could patch up his differences with the party in order to try to unseat Douglas Carswell, who quit the party last month. Banks, who also left the party in March, is expected to meet Nigel Farage and party officials on Wednesday to discuss whether he should stand for Ukip against Carswell in Clacton in the 8 June general election Theresa May has called for. Banks’s spokesman said he had promised to launch his campaign in the Essex coastal town on Thursday whether or not he was adopted as the party’s candidate. Carswell, the former Conservative MP who left Ukip to sit as an independent, has said he will stand again. Giles Watling, who stood for the Conservatives in the 2015 election, has said he also wants to run, potentially setting up a close three-way fight.
Chicken Theresa May has ruled out head-to-head TV election debates. The PM will resist calls to take part in live studio showdowns with fellow party leaders despite the Tories enjoying double-digit poll leads going into the campaign. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on Mrs May to perform another U-turn. He said: “Elections and democracy are about public debate. So it’s rather strange 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. “Well, I say to Theresa May, who said this election was about leadership, come on and show some – let’s have the debates. “It’s what democracy needs and the British people deserve.” Lib Dem leader Tim Farron claimed Mrs May’s “attempt to dodge scrutiny shows how she holds the public in contempt”.
UKIP leader Paul Nuttall said he welcomed the chance to take the party’s “positive message” to the country. He urged voters to support “the only party wholeheartedly committed to a clean, quick and efficient Brexit”. But he added: “We believe the Prime Minister’s decision to call this election is a cynical decision driven more by the weakness of Corbyn’s Labour Party rather than the good of the country.” The PM had also faced potential by-elections resulting from investigations into the Tories’ 2015 election spending, he said. The election will be a test of whether Ukip can survive as a force now its founding goal of getting Britain out of the European Union has been achieved and Mrs May is committed to Brexit and immigration control.
Labour HQ staff have been told tonight that the party has no election slogan, no agreed key seats list and no campaign budget signed off. Revealing the chaotic response to the snap election announcement in Victoria Street, Labour HQ sources tell Guido that, in a briefing to party staff, a defeatist General Secretary Iain McNicol warned “This is going to be tough” and unconvincingly, according to recipients of the briefing, that “we can win seats”. Optimistic. Guido is told Labour staffers spent today repeatedly asking their superiors for a key seats list of constituencies where resources should be targeted, only to be informed the list had yet to be decided. Regional managers have no idea on what resource basis they can plan. An astonishing lack of planning from the fans of centralised state planning given that a snap election has been a possibility that Corbyn and McDonnell had been warning of for months.
Three Liberal Democrat knights from the Coalition era will make a comeback to try to win back their seats in the snap election. The trio of Remainers – all former Cabinet members – put themselves forward as the party attempts to come back from the political dead. Veterans Sir Vince Cable, Sir Ed Davey and Sir Simon Hughes all lost their seats in 2015 when the party was reduced to just eight MPs. Within hours of the PM’s announcement, membership of the party surged by thousands. Leader Tim Farron declared that the poll was a chance for voters to avert a ‘disastrous’ Brexit. He hailed it as a ‘chance to change the direction of the country’ and vowed to campaign to keep Britain in the single market. The unashamedly pro-European party hopes to walk back into some of the 49 seats it lost to both Labour and the Tories in the bloodbath of 2015.
BRITAIN stands the best chance of securing a mutually beneficial deal with the European Union if Theresa May wins a thumping majority in next month’s snap General Election. Officials in Brussels have privately reacted with relief after the prime minister finally decided to go to the public and are viewing the upcoming contest as a positive development. There is a feeling within the EU that the definitive result produced by an election will help dispel some of the chaos and vitriolic rhetoric currently engulfing the Brexit debate. And senior negotiators believe the talks will run more smoothly and productively if they are faced with a confident UK Government backed by a concrete mandate from the public. EU officials are not taking sides in the election and are not supporting Mrs May’s campaign, insisting that it is a domestic matter for the UK to resolve.
Theresa May will come under tremendous pressure to spell out her plans for Britain after Brexit, senior Conservatives admitted last night, with the risk of alienating remainers and leavers alike. The prime minister had pledged to publish a series of bills outlining new laws to cover post-Brexit issues such as immigration control, customs regulations and data protection policy. She faces going into the intense scrutiny of the election campaign with demands for her to bring these proposals forward and include them in the Conservative election manifesto. Last night several senior Tory MPs said that Mrs May would find it hard to avoid setting out her position on controversial issues such as immigration policy that are not directly related to the Brexit negotiations.
Tony Blair last night called on voters to elect anti-Brexit MPs on June 8 – no matter which party they are from. The former Labour leader said he wanted people who would ‘put the national interest before party interest’ to be elected. And, hinting that he feared a disastrous result for his party, he warned that the country is facing the ‘dangerous’ situation of a Tory majority ‘in part delivered because of the state of Labour’. His comments come very close to being an endorsement for Liberal Democrat candidates in areas where Labour has put up an MP who supports leaving the EU. Last night there were even claims that Mr Blair could share a stage with Lib Dem leader Tim Farron to fight Brexit during the election campaign.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair has said voters should pick candidates from whichever party is prepared to hold Theresa May’s Government to account over Brexit. He said “unique circumstances demand a unique response” and that “this should cross party lines”, with many speculating he will campaign alongside the Liberal Democrats ahead of the June 8 vote. According to The Telegraph, Senior Liberal Democrats have “confirmed” Mr Blair “could” join forces with Lib Dem leader Tim Farron to campaign against Brexit at the 2017 general election. Mr Farron has positioned his party as “your chance to change the direction of your country … if you want to avoid a disastrous hard Brexit”. Mr Blair, who won three general elections as leader of the Labour Party, said in a statement on Tuesday: “There has to be a way of ensuring that voters can put candidates for Parliament under sustained pressure to say whether they would vote against a deal which does not deliver the same benefits as we enjoy with the single market or against no deal if that transpires to be as damaging as many fear; and that they are prepared to hold the Government properly to account in the interests of the country.
One of Jeremy Corbyn’s own MPs last night urged him to quit to avoid a Labour meltdown in the election, saying he could not support him entering No 10. In an extraordinary outburst, John Woodcock, a moderate MP with a wafer-thin majority, said the hard-Left leader was not fit to be prime minister. He told constituents: ‘There is still time for Jeremy to stand down rather than lead Labour to defeat.’ Mr Corbyn refused to say whether he would quit if Labour – trailing by more than 20 points in the polls – suffers a wipeout. Dozens of Labour’s 229 MPs are expected to lose their seats with the party forecast to end up with fewer than the 209 Michael Foot achieved in 1983. Humiliation on such a scale would effectively shut Labour out of power for more than a decade. However, some Blairites see defeat as the only way to get rid of Mr Corbyn and elect a more voter-friendly leader.
Greenpeace has been fined £30,000 by the Electoral Commission for failing to register as a campaigning organisation in the 2015 general election. The fine, the first given to a body that is not a political party since tougher rules on election spending were introduced in the 2014 Lobbying Act, may deter similar groups from campaigning in the election announced yesterday. Greenpeace spent more than £125,000 on the 2015 election, campaigning against fracking and for fishermen to get a bigger share of fish quotas. Under the Lobbying Act, civil society organisations are required to register with the Electoral Commission if they plan to spend more than £20,000 in England or £10,000 in the rest of the UK.
RUSSIA has claimed it can disable the entire US Navy in one fell swoop using powerful electronic signal jamming. A news report from the country – where the media is essentially controlled by the state – said the technology could render planes, ships and missiles useless. The newsreader says: “Today, our Russian Electronic Warfare (REW) troops can detect and neutralise any target from a ship’s system and a radar, to a satellite.” The news report claims a single Russian war plane flew several times around American destroyer the USS Donald Cook in the Black Sea several years ago, disabling its systems and leaving it helpless. The report also claims they are capable to creating electronic jamming domes over their bases that make them invisible on radar screens.
An asteroid more than a quarter mile (400 meters) wide will pass close to Earth on Wednesday, zooming by at a distance of just over a million miles (1.8 million km), but with no chance of impact, according to Nasa scientists. Smaller asteroids routinely make closer passes to Earth, but 2014 J025, discovered in May 2014, will be the largest asteroid to come this close to the planet since 2004, flying by at only about 4.6 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon, 1.1 million miles (1.8 million km). “We know the time that the object is going to be closest within seconds, and the distance is known within hundreds of kilometres (miles),” Davide Farnocchia, a mathematician at Nasa’s Near-Earth Object program, told Reuters on Tuesday. Having several years of data on the asteroid’s trajectory gives scientists the ability to predict its path very confidently, he added.