May wins backing for election on June 8

With the Prime Minister needing the support of 434 MPs - two thirds of all seats in the House of Commons - some 522 voted for the early election, with just 13 against.

May formally notified the European Union on March 29 of Britain's intention to leave, beginning a two-year negotiating period to settle divorce terms and agree a new trading relationship.

The gap before talks begin in earnest in June gave her a "window of opportunity" to strengthen her hand by improving her slim 17-seat majority and pushing the next election date back to 2022, by which time the United Kingdom should have long ago left the EU.

May stunned the country on Tuesday when she announced her plan for an early vote, despite having repeatedly said she would wait until the next election scheduled in 2020.

Rejecting the PM's claim that an election is needed to prevent disunity at Westminster undermining a Brexit deal, Mr Corbyn said: "There is no obstacle to the Government negotiating, but, instead of getting on with the job, she is painting herself as the prisoner of the Liberal Democrats".

Her plan comes as the main opposition Labour Party faces record lows in approval ratings.

Both Labour and Liberal Democrats have officially welcomed the early poll and are expected to back it in Wednesday afternoon's vote.

Riding high in the opinion polls, May is seeking to increase her slim majority of 17 in the 650-seat Commons before the battles begin with the European Union over Britain's exit bill and future trade and immigration ties.

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

"What do we know that the leader of the Labour Party, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and the leader of the Scottish nationalists have in common?" she asked parliament.

Corbyn, battling to control a party divided by his left wing agenda and win support from a public which is unsure of his political views and leadership ability, will seek to tap voters' frustration at the political establishment.

Theresa May has called the election with her party in a seemingly impregnable position in the polls.

"I want this country to be able to play the strongest hand possible in those negotiations to get the best possible deal because that's in our long-term interests".

Following considerable wrangling over formats, the 2015 election campaign saw one debate featuring Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg alongside Labour's Ed Miliband and leaders of Ukip, the Scottish National Party, Greens and Plaid Cymru, as well as a second debate with the five non-coalition parties and programmes in which Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg and Mr Miliband answered questions but did not debate face-to-face. "The election gives the British people the chance to change direction".

"We won't be doing television debates", May said, adding that politicians should spend election campaigns "out and about" meeting voters.

And Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood - whose profile received a major boost from her involvement in two of the 2015 broadcasts - said: "Theresa May should be empty chaired if she doesn't show up to any planned TV debates".

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