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UK election will strengthen government's hand in EU talks, May says
20 April 2017, 02:23 | Melissa Porter
The election is the fourth major vote in four years, after last June's European Union referendum, the 2015 general election, and the 2014 Scottish independence vote.
Lawmakers in the House of Commons voted 522 to 13 on Wednesday to support the motion put forward by May a day earlier.
May's announcement on Tuesday sent shockwaves throughout Britain's political establishment, with opposition parties vowing to contest the ruling Conservatives at the ballot box.
Asked repeatedly by BBC journalist Justin Webb whether Mr Corbyn or Conservative leader Theresa May was the best person to oversee Brexit as Prime Minister, she declined to give a clear answer.
Mrs May added: "I believe in campaigns where politicians actually get out and about and meet with voters". "I don't think it's going to get any better than this for the Conservatives, if you look at some of the hard things that are coming down the line: Not just Brexit, but the economy". The first British leaders' debate on live TV wasn't held until 2010.
"We are in the midst of Brexit negotiations so this election will provide a ideal opportunity for the 52% to vote for UKIP the only party wholeheartedly committed to a clean quick and efficient Brexit".
Downing Street sources later told Sky News that she was considering a number of TV programme formats, but reiterated that there would be no head-to-head debates.
During the debate, held on Wednesday afternoon in the House of Commons, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn reminded the prime minister that she had previously stated emphatically that there wouldn't be a general election until 2020.
"Why will she not publicly debate these issues now - what is she scared of?"
When informed there was to be another election, her response was to say "You're joking?"
"The self-inflicted weakness of the Labour Party has given the prime minister her excuse but the SNP has a very different plan, we are determined that Scotland's voice will be heard and heard loudly and clearly", she added.
"The Democratic Unionist Party has been a strong voice for Northern Ireland at Westminster and we have used the mandate given to us to ensure the interests of Northern Ireland are to the fore".
The opposition again piled on the pressure in the House of Commons during Prime Minister's Question Time.
Speaking after a meeting of Labour's governing National Executive Committee, Mr Corbyn said: "There will be no coalition deal with the SNP and a Labour government". If Theresa May is so proud of her record, why won't she debate it?
Scottish National Party MP Angus Robertson called it "unsustainable in the 21st century" to skip the debates.
And Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood - whose profile received a major boost from her involvement in two of the 2015 broadcasts - said: "Theresa May should be empty chaired if she doesn't show up to any planned TV debates".
Although unpopular, observers consider May's decision to be a political calculation as she holds a roughly 20-point lead in the polls. "It's about ... getting the right deal from Europe". "I don't think she'd fare well".
May's predecessor, David Cameron, spent his spare time as an Oxford student at the debating society.
May's Conservatives now hold 330 House of Commons seats and Labour 229.
Mrs May, who became PM last July after the European Union referendum, told MPs it would wrong for the United Kingdom to find itself reaching the most "difficult and sensitive" phase of Brexit negotiations in late 2018 and early 2019 when a general election was "looming on the horizon".
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Despite Corbyn's bravado, his party is demoralized and divided under his left-wing leadership and is expected to fare badly. TV debates don't have a long history in British politics, but were a feature of the last two elections, in 2010 and 2015.
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