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A snapping sound

British Prime Minister May calls for June election to foster harmony over Brexit

By: Chris Gillis
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Photo: Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Shutterstock.com
   Frustrated by constant undermining by opposition parties in the House of Commons, Prime Minister Theresa May called for a “snap” general election in the parliament June 8 to set a clearer path forward for Britain’s exit from the European Union.
   May told a televised press gathering Tuesday “there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division” at the start of the country’s negotiations on its departure from the European Union.
   She had originally opposed an early election, but felt that she was now pushed to do so by parliamentary wrangling, mostly regarding Brexit. The prime minister’s Conservative Party narrowly won the recent election, but the Labor Party, the country’s other large political party, has lost some popularity among the British people.
   “Since I became prime minister, I have said 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,” May said.
   Britain’s industries will be watching the general election closely, but urged politicians overall to support national economic stability during the Brexit negotiations with the European Union.
   “Many business communities will understandably be concerned that attention will inevitably shift from the economy and the intricacies of leaving the EU to a potential election campaign,” said Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chambers of Commerce. “Firms will want to be reassured that the key challenges facing the economy will be front and center throughout any election period.”
   “Firms will want to hear commitments from all parties to work in close partnership with business and back a new industrial strategy to make the U.K. economy the most competitive in the world by 2030,” Carolyn Fairburn, director-general of the Confederation of British Industries, said in a statement. “It is essential to get the U.K.’s foundations right, from building a skills base for the next generation, to investing in infrastructure, energy and delivering a pro-enterprise tax environment.”
   She added “It is vital that negotiators secure some early wins and all parties should commit to working to ensure businesses can continue to trade easily with our EU neighbors, while seeking new opportunities around the world.”
   The British Parliament’s Liberal Democrats have reportedly said they prefer a “soft” Brexit, meaning that Britain would remain a part of the European Union’s free trade zone, while other opposition parties have called for a complete reversal of Brexit referendum.
   A majority of British citizens voted to leave the European Union in June 2016, resulting in the United Kingdom becoming the first EU member to invoke so-called Article 50, the procedure for country members to leave the pact. The United Kingdom became a member of the group in 1973, which now includes 27 European countries.
   May, upon taking office in March, made the official declaration that her administration will begin exit negotiations from the European Union. It’s estimated that it will take at least several years for the dissolution of the United Kingdom’s EU membership to be completed.
   “Britain is leaving the European Union and there can be no turning back,” May said. “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 U.K. 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.”
   EU President Jean-Claude Juncker told the European media that Brexit negotiations will start after Britain’s June 8 election.