United Kingdom prime minister defends decision to seek snap election
The prime minister was speaking after her call for an early election on 8 June was overwhelmingly backed by MPs.
Although Parliament will not be officially dissolved until early May, campaigning is already under way - with Lib Dem leader Tim Farron addressing a rally of activists in south-west London earlier on Wednesday.
She said on Tuesday she had "reluctantly" come to the decision to call for an early election because of political division in Westminster, criticising opposition parties for trying to thwart her plans for leaving the EU.
Mrs May said all Labour had to offer the country was "bankruptcy and chaos" while a Conservative victory would strengthen her hand in the forthcoming Brexit negotiations.
May is facing heavy fire for calling the election, especially from Labour's Jeremy Corbyn. TV debates don't have a long history in British politics, but were a feature of the last two elections, in 2010 and 2015.
"A general election is the best way to strengthen Britain's hand in the negotiation".
With Conservatives leading the polls, the election's undercurrent will be all about what kind of Brexit Britain will live with.
Former Conservative finance minister George Osborne, a powerful voice in favour of Britain's European Union membership during the referendum campaign, also said he would not seek re-election.
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Britain will also not have a say in the future location of London-based European Union agencies, he added, contradicting one United Kingdom official who said this week that the issue would be part of the Brexit negotiations.
With the British economy so far defying predictions of a slowdown and instead showing stronger growth than expected, experts predict her ruling Conservative Party could win around 100 more seats. May added that securing the "right deal" with Brussels for Britain is her priority.
"We welcome the general election but this is a prime minister who promised there wouldn't be one, a prime minister who can not be trusted", he told the Commons on Wednesday.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn told the prime minister that "Britain is being held back by her government".
Mrs May appealed for the British people to trust her to handle Brexit and rejected claims the decision to go to the country on June 8 was motivated by political opportunism at a time when the Tories enjoy a healthy opinion poll lead.
The Scottish National Party's leader in the Commons, Angus Robertson, also challenged Mrs May over debates, asking: "If the Prime Minister is so confident of her hard-Brexit, pro-austerity, anti-immigration case, why won't she debate opposition leaders?"
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood said the Prime Minister's decision reflects the disdain she holds for the north and attempts to restore power sharing government. She said she was confident of reaching a deal in that time frame.
They said ministers from those member states are then scheduled to meet on May 22 to formally issue detailed directives for the negotiations to be led by Michel Barnier, who previously held high-level French government positions.
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What are the views of the other main parties? "I look forward to spreading Labour's positive message on the doorstep". The British currency, which had weakened before the announcement , was up by more than a cent against the dollar.
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