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Back to the ballot box: UK lawmakers back June 8 election
20 April 2017, 09:58 | Melissa Porter
Theresa May is 'running scared' of a leaders' debate with Nicola Sturgeon
The address will come just a day after MPs backed Theresa May's call for a snap general election on 8 June, more than a month after the local and metro-mayoral elections on 4 May. Her predecessor, David Cameron, resigned after Britain voted previous year to leave the European Union.
May told MPs the upcoming snap election will be about leadership and stability, saying: "I will be asking for the public's support to deliver my plan for a stronger Britain".
May wasted no time, going from the vote in Parliament to kick off her campaign with a speech in to supporters northwestern England.
The gap before talks begin in earnest in June gave her a "window of opportunity" to strengthen her hand by improving her slim 17-seat majority and pushing the next election date back to 2022, by which time the United Kingdom should have long ago left the EU.
The apparent concession comes after Mrs May faced taunts of "frit" from Labour backbenchers at Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, as leader Jeremy Corbyn accused her of running scared of scrutiny on her record.
The opposition Labour Party and Liberal Democrats welcomed the chance to put their policies to voters, though the Scottish National Party called the election a cynical political ploy. Its lawmakers abstained during Wednesday's vote.
But after ITV confirmed it would host a leaders' debate and a senior BBC journalist said the corporation would not let a single politician stop a programme which was in the public interest, it is understood that Mrs May is now open to the idea of a Q&A session.
"The Conservatives will use all the divide-and-rule tricks of the Lynton Crosby trade to protect the wealth extractors' rigged system", the Labour leader is expected to say.
The Sun, Britain's top-selling newspaper, splashed the headline "Blue Murder" - a reference to the Conservatives' party color and the prospect of Labour losing dozens of seats.
Wyn Grant, politics professor at the University of Warwick, said the Liberal Democrats could regain 20 seats in the election "if things go well for them".
While a third or so of Conservative voters voted against leaving, they are considered likely to back May, given the alternatives, especially as she has hinted lately that a transitional deal with Brussels would probably involve some compromises in the national interest. But even if she fails to win a majority, Brexit would not be stopped, unless every anti-Brexit Member of Parliament were to back a temporary government and vote to hold a second national referendum.
That would give May a powerful mandate extending until 2022, long enough to cover the Brexit negotiations plus a possible transition period into new trading arrangements with the European Union - a prospect that has strengthened the pound.
They say a larger Conservative majority, if it emerges on June 8, makes the "deadline to deliver a "clean" Brexit without a lengthy transitional arrangement by 2019 far less pressing given that no general election will be due the year after".
A European Commission spokesman said the "real political" negotiations on Brexit will start after the election. Commission spokesperson Margaritis Schinas told reporters on Wednesday that European Union agencies must be based in the territory of the EU.
May ruled out participating in televised debates with other leaders.
History shows it may be too soon to ring the death knell for a party that won three consecutive elections before being unseated in 2010, but the political landscape doesn't suggest a resurrection anytime soon.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn set the tone for his campaign by criticizing May for her "broken promises" on healthcare and education, and jabbed at her for not agreeing to take part in television debates before the election.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said that broadcasters should hold debates anyway, with an empty chair in May's place.
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