Prime Minister Theresa May has called for a snap General Election.
She will ask the House of Commons at Westminster to approve the election for June 8.
The PM announced the shock move in a statement outside Number 10 Downing Street.
Mrs May has previously backed The Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011 which sets a precedent for elections only to be held every five years.
In her statement today she said she had reversed her decision due to splits across the political spectrum.
If elected to power, it will give Mrs May a mandate for Brexit negotiations.
She said: “I have just chaired a meeting of the Cabinet, where we agreed that the Government should call a general election, to be held on June 8.
“I want to explain the reasons for that decision, what will happen next and the choice facing the British people when you come to vote in this election.
“Last summer, after the country voted to leave the European Union, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership, and since I became Prime Minister the Government has delivered precisely that.
“Despite predictions of immediate financial and economic danger, since the referendum we have seen consumer confidence remain high, record numbers of jobs, and economic growth that has exceeded all expectations.
“We have also delivered on the mandate that we were handed by the referendum result.”
Mrs May said she was acting now because of the opposition in Parliament to the Government’s plans for Brexit.
“Our opponents believe because the Government’s majority is so small that our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change. They are wrong.
“They under-estimate our determination to get the job done and I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country, because what they are doing jeopardises the work we must do to prepare for Brexit at home and it weakens the Government’s negotiating position in Europe.”
She added: “Britain is leaving the European Union and there can be no turning back. And as we look to the future, the Government has the right plan for negotiating our new relationship with Europe.
“We want a deep and special partnership between a strong and successful European Union and a United Kingdom that is free to chart its own way in the world.
“That means we will regain control of our own money, our own laws and our own borders and we will be free to strike trade deals with old friends and new partners all around the world.
“This is the right approach, and it is in the national interest. But the other political parties oppose it.
“At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division.
“The country is coming together, but Westminster is not.”
Mrs May suggested she reached her decision over the Easter parliamentary recess, following previous denials that she would call an early vote.
She said: “I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion.
“Since I became Prime Minister I have said that there should be no election until 2020.
“But now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take.”
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