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May says general election strengthens Brexit hand

Theresa May

Defending her decision to seek a poll on 8 June, the prime minister told she had "reluctantly" changed her mind on the issue in recent weeks.

Asking the public to trust her, she said a new mandate would give her the "strongest hand" in talks and make it hard for people to "frustrate" EU exit. The move is set to be authorised by MPs in the House of Commons later. The early poll is expected to secure the two-thirds Commons majority it requires to go ahead following Mrs May's surprise announcement on Tuesday. The next general election had been expected in 2020, but the Fixed Term Parliaments Act allows for one to be held earlier if two-thirds of MPs back the move.

The SNP has signalled its MPs will abstain in the vote on Wednesday afternoon and Labour and the Liberal Democrats, while accusing Mrs May of political opportunism, have welcomed the prospect of an early election.