The UK is to have a general election, following a vote by MPs.
MPs voted 522 to 13 in favour of triggering the election, meaning Theresa May now has the power to go ahead with the vote on June 8.
Due to the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, which is intended to stop elections less than five years apart, MPs either had to vote for a no confidence motion in the government or – as happened today – vote by a majority of two thirds in order for parliament to be dissolved and an election called.
Opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn backed Theresa May’s calls for a snap general election yesterday, following her surprise announcement on Downing Street.
The Labour party currently has 229 Members of Parliament, compared to the Conservative Party’s 330.
Candidates will fight elections in 650 seats across the country, and either Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn is expected to be Prime Minister after the election.
The incumbent Prime Minister had said she did not intend to hold an election before 2020, but now says Westminster has failed to be “united”.
Mrs May answered critics, saying she had come to the conclusion “recently and reluctantly”.
She claimed other parties had tried to stop her “getting the job done” and that she wanted a larger governing majority to “remove the risk of uncertainty and instability”.
Responding to the Prime Minister’s Downing Street speech, Labour leader 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.”
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron has said he will back the motion for an election, saying in a statement: “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.”
The election has already caused controversy, with the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron refusing to say whether he believes gay sex is sinful.
In an interview with Channel 4’s Cathy Newman today, Mr Farron was pushed on the issue again.
She challenged him: “A while back I asked you whether it was true that you believed homosexuality was a sin, and you struggled to answer. Now you’ve had a while to consider that question, what is the answer?”
The Lib Dem leader insisted: “I don’t think I struggled to answer, I talked about how I’m not in a position to be making theological pronouncements. I can promise you one thing, over the next six weeks I’m not going to spend my time talking theology or making pronouncements.
“As a liberal, I’m passionate about equality – about equal marriage, about equal rights for LGBT people, fighting not just for LGBT rights in this country but overseas.”