May says early elections will boost her in EU talks, Brexit negotiations to start thereafter
Prime Minister Theresa May said on Wednesday an early election would strengthen her at the "most crucial point" in Britain's divorce talks with the EU, as she prepared to ask parliament to approve a vote in just seven weeks' time. May surprised allies and opponents on Tuesday when she announced her plan to bring forward an election that was not due until 2020.
The former interior minister, who became prime minister without an election when her predecessor David Cameron quit after last year's referendum vote for Brexit, said she needed to strengthen her hand in negotiations which will reshape Britain and test the cohesion of the EU. "I've taken this decision because I genuinely believe it is in the national interest," May told BBC radio.
"If you look at the timetable, had the election been in 2020 we would have been coming up to the most crucial part of the negotiations, at the end of the negotiations, in what would be starting to be the run-up to a general election."
She is expected to win the necessary backing of more than two-thirds of parliament in a vote that is likely to take place soon after 1300 GMT. The European Union's "real political" negotiations on Britain's exit from the bloc will start after the snap British election in June, an EU spokesman said on Wednesday. "The real political negotiations on article 50 with the UK will start after the elections foreseen for the 8th of June," European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a press conference.