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Theresa May has announced a shock general election.
In a statement made outside 10 Downing Street in Westminster this morning (Tuesday April 18), the Prime Minister said that the poll would be held on June 8.
Mrs May said she would be tabling a motion in the House of Commons tomorrow (Wednesday April 19).
The Prime Minister said she realised an election was needed to be called for before leaving the EU “only recently” and “reluctantly”, arguing Britain needs stability.
We will bring you live updates on all the reaction.
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Round-up after shock election announcement
This morning the Prime Minister Theresa May announced she will be putting forward a motion on Wednesday to hold a general election on June 8.
Over and out
Our live blog on the unfolding general election drama is now coming to an end.
For a full round up of today’s developments, click here.
Thanks for joining us and have an excellent evening.
Mole Valley MP
Sir Paul Beresford, the Conservative Party MP for Mole Valley, has given his reaction to the general election announcement to our colleagues at the Dorking & Leatherhead Advertiser.
I am extremely excited for the election, and I do love elections.
It was a bit of a surprise that it was called, but a few of us in the party suspected it might happen.
There are difficult times ahead, with the decision to leave Europe and the attempts of the Liberal Democrats and the SNP to undermine this decision.
Elections are always a risk, and I think although Labour are likely to be thumped the Liberals will be going hell for leather.
But the reality is that there will be a Conservative government, and likely with an increased majority.
This is important for stability, and countries across the globe and in Europe will know they are dealing with a strong Conservative government, and that will allow us to secure the best deals for our future.
The general election announcement means there will be a need to head to the polls twice in five weeks.
Surrey County Council elections take place on Thursday May 4; for a full list of all the candidates, click here.
Then, if the motion is passed, we once again converge on polling stations for the general election on Thursday June 8.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond has had his say on social media, supporting the prime minister’s decision. The Runnymede & Weybridge MP said it “ensures strong leadership, certainty & stability”:
Place your bets please
Since this morning’s shock announcement, both Ladbrokes and Coral have made the Tories odds-on favourites at 1/10 to win the most seats and 1/5 to gain an overall majority.
The odds of Jeremy Corbyn being replaced as leader of the Labour before the end of 2017 is now 1/5, writes the Mirror.
Monster Raving Loony Party reaction
Monster Raving Loony Party leader Alan “Howling Laud” Hope, from Fleet, said it looks like he will stand against Theresa May for the Maidenhead seat.
It’s taken us all by surprise but we will have at least 35 candidates up and down the country.
Look out Parliament, it’s time for a change!
For the full story, click here.
President of the European Council Donald Tusk has reacted on social media to the news...
Good phone call with PM @theresa_may on upcoming UK elections.— Donald Tusk (@eucopresident) April 18, 2017
And he appears to be a film fan...
It was Hitchcock, who directed Brexit: first an earthquake and the tension rises.— Donald Tusk (@donaldtusk) April 18, 2017
Esher & Walton constituency
Dominic Raab, the MP for Esher & Walton, was victorious with a majority of more than 25,000 people in 2015, one of the largest in the country.
He has spoken following Mrs May’s general election announcement:
This election will give the country the stability and leadership the country needs. We will be offering the country a strong economy that delivers the jobs and tax revenue we need for our precious public services.
We’ll be offering the country strong political leadership through the Brexit negotiations, so we secure the best deal for the whole country.
And a vote for the Conservatives will give us the mandate we need to tackle the big social issues of the day - from making sure we have the school places for young families, to providing the social care our elderly need.
We will go through the proper Local Association procedure, but I look forward to standing in the election, running on my record as a champion for our local communities, and making the case for the optimistic Conservative vision for Britain’s future.
The last general election
The last general election was held on Thursday May 7 2015 and was a clean sweep for the Conservative Party in Surrey.
Conservative MPs were re-elected in all 11 constituencies - Guildford, Woking, Mole Valley, Surrey Heath, South West Surrey, Runnymede & Weybridge, Esher & Walton, Spelthorne, East Surrey, Reigate and Epsom & Ewell.
For Get Surrey’s coverage of the election, click here.
But what is a general election?
The official Parliament website describes it as follows:
A general election is an opportunity for people in every part of the UK to choose their MP - the person who will represent their local area (constituency) in the House of Commons for up to five years.
There is normally a choice of several candidates in each constituency, some of which are the local candidates for national political parties. People can only vote for one of the candidates and the candidate that receives most votes becomes their MP.
SNP calls the move a “huge political miscalculation"
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon described the announcement as “one of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history”, and said Mrs May is “once again putting the interests of her party ahead of those of the country”.
Ms Sturgeon said:
She is clearly betting that the Tories can win a bigger majority in England given the utter disarray in the Labour Party.
That makes it all the more important that Scotland is protected from a Tory Party which now sees the chance of grabbing control of government for many years to come and moving the UK further to the right - forcing through a hard Brexit and imposing deeper cuts in the process.
That means that this will be - more than ever before - an election about standing up for Scotland, in the face of a right-wing, austerity-obsessed Tory government with no mandate in Scotland but which now thinks it can do whatever it wants and get away with it.
Ms Sturgeon said it was “a huge political miscalculation” by the Prime Minister.
It will once again give people the opportunity to reject the Tories’ narrow, divisive agenda, as well as reinforcing the democratic mandate which already exists for giving the people of Scotland a choice on their future.
The SNP will always put the people of Scotland first - and between now and June 8, we will work harder than ever to retain the trust of the people.
Satirist Armando Iannucci, who created The Thick of It, has launched an appeal via Twitter.
18-24 year olds. I beg you on my gnarled and brittle knees; register to vote, and then vote. A solid 18-24 vote will make a big difference.— Armando Iannucci (@Aiannucci) April 18, 2017
Green Party reaction
Keith Taylor, Green Party MEP for the South East, said:
Let’s be clear, this election will be a referendum on Brexit and the best opportunity we have of stopping Britain committing an act of great self-harm.
As Greens, we will be campaigning on a proudly, loudly pro-European platform.
Liberal Democrat response
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron has responded to the announcement.
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.
More from the speech
This is your moment to show you mean it, to show you are not opposing the Government for the sake of it, to show that you do not treat politics as a game.
Let us tomorrow vote for an election, let us put forward our plans for Brexit and our alternative programmes for government and then let the people decide.
And the decision facing the country will be all about leadership. It will be a choice between strong and stable leadership in the national interest, with me as your Prime Minister, or weak and unstable coalition government, led by Jeremy Corbyn, propped up by the Liberal Democrats - who want to reopen the divisions of the referendum - and Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.
Every vote for the Conservatives will make it harder for opposition politicians who want to stop me from getting the job done.
Every vote for the Conservatives will make me stronger when I negotiate for Britain with the prime ministers, presidents and chancellors of the European Union.
Every vote for the Conservatives means we can stick to our plan for a stronger Britain and take the right long-term decisions for a more secure future.
It was with reluctance that I decided the country needs this election, but it is with strong conviction that I say it is necessary to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.
So, tomorrow, let the House of Commons vote for an election, let everybody put forward their proposals for Brexit and their programmes for Government, and let us remove the risk of uncertainty and instability and continue to give the country the strong and stable leadership it demands.
Theresa May's speech
Here is an extract from the Prime Minister’s general election speech earlier.
Because what they are doing jeopardises the work we must do to prepare for Brexit at home and it weakens the Government’s negotiating position in Europe.
If we do not hold a general election now their political game-playing will continue, and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election.
Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country.
So we need a general election and we need one now, because we have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin.
I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion. “Since I became Prime Minister I have said that there should be no election until 2020, but now I have concluded that 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.
And so tomorrow I will move a motion in the House of Commons calling for a general election to be held on June 8.
That motion, as set out by the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, will require a two-thirds majority of the House of Commons.
So I have a simple challenge to the opposition parties, you have criticised the Government’s vision for Brexit, you have challenged our objectives, you have threatened to block the legislation we put before Parliament.
How will it all happen?
This video explains the general election process.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has reacted to the news.
“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.”
Mrs May said she is “reluctantly” proposing the general election and that it is in the national interest, particularly regarding the Brexit negotiations.
Prime Minister Theresa May has just announced outside number 10 Downing Street that she will put forward a motion in the Commons tomorrow (Wednesday) to hold a general election on Thursday June 8.