Campaign begins as UK MPs vote for early election

Shame on us, the press, for not figuring out weeks or months ago that British Prime Minister Theresa May would call a snap election this year.

In a sign of the key campaign issues ahead, May traded barbs in the Commons with opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, whose party is deeply divided and languishing up to 20 points behind the Conservatives. Labour is, at last, trying to win back the middle ground, vacated since the early 80s.

A man passing by commented: "I hope you become Prime Minister" - prompting a smile and thanks from Mr Corbyn.

The region's MPs unanimously backed the Prime Minister in her successful bid to force an early general election.

She claimed that divisions in Parliament risked hampering Brexit negotiations and that she wanted "unity". The government has a majority of just 17 MPs.

On Tuesday, she said she would seek a "snap" election less than halfway through her government's five-year term, with the goal of gaining a stronger mandate for Britain's withdrawal from the European Union.

Asked what would happen if the SNP failed to win a majority of votes, Ms Sturgeon replied: "I already have a mandate". But even if she fails to win a majority, Brexit would not be stopped, unless every anti-Brexit Member of Parliament were to back a temporary government and vote to hold a second national referendum.

"The decision facing the country will be clear. We look forward to showing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain".

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to the media outside 10 Downing Street, in central London, Britain April 18, 2017. A spokesman said: "Our answer is no".

Theresa May said that Jeremy Corbyn was not fit to lead, but faced criticism over her refusal to take part in TV debates.

Corbyn said years of Conservative austerity had led to falling living standards and called May "a prime minister who can't be trusted".

According to analysts, voters could give Europhile politicians a boost in Britain's upcoming election but the effect will be limited and the prospect of a grand alliance to soften Brexit is improbable.

"It's about providing the strong and stable leadership this country needs to take Britain through Brexit and beyond, it's about strengthening our hand in the negotiations that lie ahead, and it's about sticking to our plan for a stronger Britain that will enable us to secure that more stable and secure future for this country and take the right long-term decisions for the future". "The country is coming together, but Westminster is not".

Green Party co-leader Caroline Lucas welcomed an early vote at a time when "Britain is at a crossroads" and promised that the Greens would present a "bold, positive vision for a different kind of Britain".

They also say that a big victory for May will dilute the influence of those lawmakers pushing for a "hard Brexit" as well as strengthening May's overall negotiating stance.

The Liberal Democrats have 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.

UK Independence Party (UKIP) leader Paul Nuttall said that May's decision was based on the "weakness" of the Labour Party. UKIP no longer has any Members of Parliament.

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