Prime Minister Theresa May announced plans to call a snap general election for June 8 this morning.
The PM believes a general election is needed in order to bring certainty, stability and a strong leadership ahead of Brexit negotiations, a well as giving her a mandate to rule.
A vote in the House of Commons will be held on Wednesday with Mrs May needing a two-thirds victory for her decision to go ahead.
Previously the PM has said that a general election was not needed until 2020 which, under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, was the next date for the public vote.
Mrs May explained her decision to change her mind when she said: “I have concluded the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take.”
She also denounced the ‘political game playing’ undertaken by her party’s opponents, adding that an election would eliminate such behaviour and would help unite a divided Westminster ahead of the Brexit negotiations.
She said: “In recent weeks Labour have threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach with the European Union.
“The Liberal Democrats said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill.
“The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union.
“And un-elected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way.
“If we do not hold a general election now, their political game playing will continue.”
The Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn said: “I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first.
“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.
“In the last couple of weeks, Labour has set out policies that offer a clear and credible choice for the country. We look forward to showing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain.”
Leader of the Liberal Democrats, Tim Farron, responded to Mrs May’s speech with a statement.
He said: “This election is your chance to change the direction of our country.
“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.
“Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority.”