UK leader seeks snap June 8 election to bolster Brexit hand

By opting for early elections, Mrs May is not only silencing opponents within her own party, but also rebuffing anyone hoping that she may change her mind.

GBP/USD soared to a two-and-a-half month high at $1.2768, up 1.6%, as investors believed that Prime Minister May can increase the Conservative Party parliamentary majority in the general election, which would give May more freedom to push through her Brexit agenda.

Deutsche Bank, one the world's biggest sterling bears, said May's election call was a "game-changer" for the currency, and that it would raise its forecasts for the pound in the coming days.

Analysts at ETX Capital say in a note to clients that the election call "adds another layer of complexity to an already uncertain picture for United Kingdom and European assets".

Asked on Tuesday whether May would take part in televised debates, a Conservative spokesperson said: "our answer is no".

To most political observers, it was clear that May's decision was driven by something else: a desire to capitalize on the unprecedented weakness of the Labour Party, which is divided over Brexit, and its own leader, Jeremy Corbyn, and has trailed the Conservatives by up to 21 points in recent polls.

Opinion polls put the Conservatives - who now hold 330 of parliament's 650 seats - way ahead of Labour, who have 229.

There is also the risk that the Liberal Democrats, traditionally Britain's third-largest party, could eat into the Conservatives' vote; the Liberals remain enthusiastically pro-European, and could attract younger British voters who are frustrated by the anti-EU sentiment which now dominates the country's political elite.

Tim Bale, professor of politics at Queen Mary University of London, said that even for a cautious politician like May, the temptation of an early election was irresistible.

May is capitalising on her runaway lead in the opinion polls.

The vote on 8 June will be the first general election in which European Union relations will be a dominant issue.

May's Conservatives could win 382 seats with the opposition Labour Party winning 179, the Liberal Democrats 10, the Scottish National Party 56, and others 23, which would give the government a 114-seat majority in the 650-seat parliament, according to projections from YouGov cited by the paper. Votes in France in April and May and Germany in September have the potential to reshape the political landscape around the two years of Brexit talks with the EU.

European Council President Donald Tusk has confirmed that the EU expects Brexit plans to continue as scheduled to allow the remaining 27 countries to begin negotiations.

Prime Minister Theresa May last month formally triggered Britain's exit talks, nine months after the country voted in a referendum to leave the EU. But the election still carries risk for May, with voters' potentially wary at being asked to go to the polls again, less than a year after the European Union referendum.

First of all, May is taking a gamble on her personal brand.

Mrs May said she was concerned that opposition parties would seek to derail Brexit by voting against key pieces of legislation.

  • Zachary Reyes