The Latest: UK lawmakers overwhelmingly back June election

The Latest: UK lawmakers overwhelmingly back June election

LONDON — The Latest on the British prime minister’s decision to seek an early election (all times local):

2:45 p.m.

British lawmakers have voted by a resounding 522 to 13 to back Prime Minister Theresa May’s call for a national election on June 8.

The result easily surpasses the two-thirds majority of the 650 lawmakers needed to trigger an early vote. There were also a number of abstentions.

May says holding an election in June, rather than as scheduled in 2020, will give the country “certainty and stability” as it negotiates its departure from the European Union.

May is hoping to gain a bigger majority in Parliament for her Conservatives, strengthening her negotiating hand with the EU.

The opposition Labour Party and Liberal Democrats say they welcome the chance to put their policies to voters, though the Scottish National Party says the election call is a cynical ploy.

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1:40 p.m.

Former Treasury chief George Osborne, a leader of the losing campaign to keep Britain in the European Union, says he won’t be a candidate in the June 8 elections.

Osborne says he’s stepping down to focus on his new role as editor of the London Evening Standard.

Since being fired by Theresa May, Osborne has earned lucrative speaking fees and taken on an advisory role for American investment giant Blackrock.

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1:15 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has formally asked lawmakers to back her call for an early election.

May has told the House of Commons that holding a vote in June, rather than as scheduled in 2020, will give the country “certainty and stability” as it negotiates its departure from the European Union.

May says politicians should “put our fate in the hands of the people and then let the people decide.”

Lawmakers are due to vote on the motion calling for a June 8 election after a 90-minute debate Wednesday. It needs support from two-thirds of members of Parliament to pass.

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12 p.m.

The European Union’s executive says that Brexit negotiations will start after the snap election in Britain that the prime minister is calling for in June.

Initially, EU officials had said that the talks could start in late May once a detailed negotiating mandate had been agreed among the EU’s 27 other members.

European Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said that “the real political negotiations on Article 50 with the U.K. will start after the elections foreseen for June 8.”

The decision came after European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker had a phone call with May following her election announcement Tuesday.

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11:35 a.m.

The German government says that it doesn’t expect a British election in June to hold up talks on Britain’s exit from the European Union.

Government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke by phone Tuesday with British Prime Minister Theresa May. Demmer said Wednesday: “The German government assumes that the negotiations can be continued without disruption.”

Germany’s foreign minister has said he hopes that the election will lead to more clarity and predictability in the Brexit negotiations.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Martin Schaefer said Wednesday: “We have an interest … in predictability and reliability, because we want to get this process done in the prescribed period of time and above all because we don’t need upheaval in this negotiating process — either at the beginning or the end.”

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9:55 a.m.

A senior European Parliament lawmaker says he hopes that British Prime Minister Theresa May, if strengthened by an election, will show readiness to compromise in Brexit talks.

Elmar Brok, a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s centre-right Christian Democrats, told Germany’s ARD television Wednesday that May could derive from a new, stronger mandate an “ability to compromise.”

Brok said that could help “so that we can conduct the negotiations professionally in the next 1 1/2 years to reach a sensible result that reduces the damage.”

He added: “She could also become more unbending; we don’t know. I hope the former will be the case.”

Brok said he expects May to win a parliamentary majority, but it’s unclear how big. He added: “If it isn’t a triumphant success, it will be to some extent a personal failure.”

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9:50 a.m.

Britain’s prime minister has defended her decision to seek a snap election.

Theresa May told the BBC in an interview on Wednesday that an early election is in the national interest because it will strengthen the country’s position in negotiations to leave the European Union.

May said that opponents were intent on “frustrating the Brexit process,” even after Parliament authorized talks with the EU.

She said that “Brexit isn’t just about the letter that says we want to leave. It’s about … getting the right deal from Europe.”

Parliament will vote Wednesday on holding a June 8 election. Elections are currently set for 2020, just a year after the scheduled completion of Brexit talks. An early ballot will give the next leader more time to implement Brexit before another election.

The Associated Press

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