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20 April 2017, 06:50 | Kelvin Horton
British Prime Minister Theresa May has called a snap general election for June 8. Picture: AP
It's a testament to the unexpectedness of Theresa May's call for a snap general election that even in the hour before the announcement, when her office had indicated that the British Prime Minister would be speaking on the steps of Downing Street, many still questioned what the nature of the announcement could be.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, who faced Mrs May when they were rival candidates at the 1992 general election in North West Durham, said: "The Prime Minister and I, back in 1992, debated publicly, forcibly and amicably when we were both candidates together".
Labour, which is the political party with the largest membership in Europe, has 50 days to campaign for a win.
MPs, the PM said, have a window of opportunity to hold a general election before negotiations with the European Union begin. She said: 'A bigger majority will enable the PM to see off the Hard Brexiteers. The government has a majority of just 17 MPs.
May became prime minister after the country voted in a June referendum to leave the bloc, prompting her predecessor, David Cameron, to resign.
Corbyn later ruled out any post-election coalition with the Scottish National Party.
But there was deep division over the issues which should decide the election's outcome, with Mrs May casting the poll as an opportunity to secure "strong and stable leadership" for Britain as it forges a new position outside the European Union, while Mr Corbyn said voters should take the chance to make their judgment on the Conservative record on austerity and public service cuts.
Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards, and damaging cuts to our schools and NHS [National Health Service]. In the last couple of weeks, Labour has set out policies that offer a clear and credible choice for the country.
"Our opponents believe that because the government's majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course". A spokesman said: "Our answer is no".
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.
A pugnacious Corbyn said: "If this general election is about leadership, as Theresa May said this morning, she should not be dodging head-to-head TV debates".
Under that law, general elections are supposed to be held on a regular five-year schedule, with the next vote due in 2020.
Mr Corbyn said that a Labour government would conduct "responsible" Brexit negotiations to ensure future trading relations with the remaining EU. "The country is coming together, but Westminster is not". If the polls are wrong, voters could hand the reins over to the Labour Party, which - despite Corbyn's pro-Brexit vote - is less pro-Brexit than the Tories. At the start of the year Corbyn's aides signaled a new strategy which took its cues from the anti-establishment, anti-mainstream media rhetoric of Donald Trump. UKIP no longer has any Members of Parliament.
Another possible reason Hedley mentioned was the "absolute disarray" and disunity in which the Labour Party now finds itself - implying the rejection of Jeremy Corbyn by the Parliamentary wing of a Labour party "stuffed mainly by careerists and opportunists" - which he compared to the Clinton wing of the Democratic Party in the US.
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