Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
  2. The Staggers
18 April 2017

Theresa May calls early general election on 8 June

The prime minister has announced that a Commons vote will be held on Wednesday.

By Helen Lewis

Theresa May has called an early general election, which will take place on 8 June.

On the steps of Downing Street, the prime minister said that her decision was driven by Labour and Lib Dem “threats” to vote against the final deal on Brexit.

“The country is coming together but Westminster is not,” she said.

Theresa May makes the announcement outside Number 10.

Select and enter your email address Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

May will call a Commons vote on Wednesday. This is a requirement of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, which mandates an election every five years. However, it also includes provisions for an early vote. (My colleague Julia explains them here.)

A YouGov poll published on Sunday put the Tories on 44 per cent, with Labour on 23 per cent. The Lib Dems were on 12 per cent and Ukip on 10 per cent. 

The Conservatives have a working majority of 16 in the House of Commons. If the YouGov polls were replicated at a general election, the Conservatives would have a majority of significantly more than 100. 

That, in turn, would make passing controversial Brexit legislation – on which many Tories have talked about rebelling – far easier.

An election will also give Theresa May a mandate of her own – based on her manifesto. As the national insurance row showed in the wake of the Budget, May and her chancellor Philip Hammond have recently felt constrained by the prospectus they inherited from the Cameron/Osborne era.

The announcement is a sharp U-turn for May, who was briefing as recently as last month that there would be no early election. She also turned down Nicola Sturgeon’s request for a second referendum on Scottish independence on the grounds it would cause “instability” while Brexit negotiations were ongoing.