Theresa May has called an early general election in a bombshell announcement outside Number 10.
The Prime Minister previously insisted she would not go back to the polls despite pressure from some within her party to capitalise on Labour’s woes and secure a strong Brexit mandate.
It is to be held on Thursday, June 8 – in 51 days’ time.
Mrs May said she had made the decision “recently and reluctantly” in light of attempts by opposition parties to stand in the way of the Brexit decision.
Nicola Sturgeon said Scots will use the General Election to reject the Tories – “reinforcing the democratic mandate which already exists” for another independence vote.
Standing in Downing Street, the PM said: “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.”
The announcement means there will have been six elections in less than three years in Scotland.
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,” she said.
“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.”
The SNP won 56 out the 59 seats up for grabs in Scotland in the General Election 2015.
The Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour each took one constituency.
In a YouGov poll published on Monday, the Conservative lead over Labour at Westminster stretched to 21 points.
If that was realised at the ballot box in the summer, it would give her a huge majority.
Mrs May will go to the House of Commons on Wednesday to start the ball rolling on the legislation required for another trip to the ballot box.
Nicola Sturgeon described it as a “huge political miscalculation” by Theresa May in Scotland, saying the General Election result will “reinforce” the mandate for an independence referendum.
“This announcement is one of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history, and it shows that Theresa May is once again putting the interests of her party ahead of those of the country,” she added.
The SNP leader said she “relishes” the prospect of another general election, adding her MPs will not vote against the bill enabling the June 8 ballot.
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, said: “I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first.
“Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to our schools and NHS.”
More to come….