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UK Prime Minister Theresa May has announced her intention to hold an early general election on June 8 to take the UK through Brexit talks with the EU, challenging opponents to show they “do not treat politics as a game”.
Here’s how those opponents are responding, along with other senior figures from within the Conservative party.
Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said a vote will give voters a “chance to change the direction of our country”, adding:
If you want to avoid a disastrous hard Brexit. If you want to keep Britain in the single market. If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance.
UK Independence party leader Paul Nuttall emphasised his party’s call for stronger controls on migration, saying that “every vote for UKIP in this general election will be a reminder to the PM that the British people want a clean Brexit with restored borders”.
The leadership of the Labour Party had not issued a formal response by the time of publication.
However, one Labour MP who has been a critic of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership said he will not stand for reelection. Tom Blenkinsop, the MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, was elected in 2010 and supported centrist candidate Liz Kendall in the 2015 leadership election.
Iain Duncan Smith, former Tory cabinet minister and a leading eurosceptic, told the BBC he welcomed the decision. He said:
She’s right to clear the air. To have a mandate and to come back and say ‘right the British people want us to get on with this, so that we can negotiate properly in Europe’. So I think that’s the right thing to do, from a position of strength.
More to come.