0415 GMT April 22, 2018
May surprised allies and opponents on Tuesday when she announced her plan to bring forward an election that was not due until 2020, saying she needed to avoid a clash of priorities in the sensitive final stages of the two-year Brexit talks.
After addressing a rowdy session of the House of Commons, May won the support of 522 lawmakers in the 650-seat Parliament for an election on June 8, an easy victory for the prime minister who could see her majority increase by at least 100 seats in the poll, Reuters reported on Wednesday.
“I believe that at this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, not division,” May told Parliament.
"A general election will provide the country with five years of strong and stable leadership to see us through the negotiations and ensure we are able to go on to make a success as a result, and that is crucial."
The former home secretary, who became prime minister without an election when her predecessor David Cameron quit after last year’s referendum vote for Brexit, enjoys a runaway lead over the main opposition Labour Party in opinion polls.
A victory would give May a powerful mandate extending until 2022, long enough to cover the Brexit negotiations plus a possible transition period into new trading arrangements with the EU – a prospect that has strengthened the pound.
May formally notified the European Union on March 29 of Britain's intention to leave, and has said she is confident of reaching a deal on the terms of withdrawal in the two years available.
She said on Tuesday she had “reluctantly” come to the decision to call for an early election because of political divisions in Westminster, criticizing opposition parties for trying to thwart her plans for leaving the EU.
“What do we know that the leader of the Labour Party, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and the leader of the Scottish Nationalists have in common?" she asked Parliament.
“They want to unite together to divide our country and we will not let them do it.”