British PM Theresa May calls general election

The early election is the latest twist a turbulent year in British politics, which was plunged into turmoil when the country unexpectedly voted to leave the European Union last year.

Earlier, under electoral law, May must win a two thirds majority in a parliamentary vote due to be held later on Wednesday before she can officially call an early election.

They are a chance to hear, in a prime-time TV slot, what party leaders offer and how robustly they can defend their ideas, he said.

If Labour sticks to local issues, while May keeps "banging on about Europe"-as the much-reviled, Tory right-wingers are notorious for doing-the prime minister could find her support among the middle classes ebbing away". But the swallowing of this bitter pill can be made much easier if May can claim a mandate for handling the Brexit negotiations and has a large enough majority in Parliament to vote it through.

However, the unexpected elections might delay the beginning of the talks, which European Union officials said could begin as early as May.

"That would be in nobody's interest", May said.

Parliament will be dissolved on May 2.

Virtually all of 330 current Tory MPs voted for an election in less than seven weeks, not surprising given the party is now enjoying a massive lead over Labour in the polls. For if the polls are right and the Conservatives' lead holds form, Mrs May should indeed secure the large overall majority that she evidently craves as she embarks on the politically perilous task of extracting the United Kingdom from the European Union.

Despite Corbyn's bravado, his party is demoralized and divided under his left-wing leadership and is expected to fare badly.

"If the SNP wins this election in Scotland and the Tories (Conservatives) don't, then Theresa May's attempt to block our mandate to give the people of Scotland a choice over their own future when the time is right will crumble to dust", said Sturgeon, who heads Scotland's devolved government.

The Sun, Britain's top-selling newspaper, splashed the headline "Blue Murder" - a reference to the Conservatives' party colour and the prospect of Labour losing dozens of seats.

Last month, May formally began the two-year divorce talks with the European Union and hopes her government can settle the exit terms alongside talks on what the new relationship with the European Union will be.

"I want a Labour government that makes sure that £10 an hour is the living wage and is paid to all workers all over the country".

May dismissed criticism of her decision to call voters back to polling booths for the third time in just over 24 months.

She said the early ballot would strengthen Britain's negotiating hand with the 27-member EU.

But Labour MP Gisela Stuart, one of the architects of Brexit as co-chair of Vote Leave, said she would be standing down after 20 years as MP for Birmingham Edgbaston. "We should always be prepared to face the electorate, but there are messages here and a narrative that I felt I needed to get across".

Thirteen MPs - including nine Labour - voted against Prime Minister Theresa May's motion calling for an early general election.

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".

ITV, another of the broadcasters who held debates in 2010 and 2015, also confirmed plans were already in place for a repeat programme this year.