Theresa May has announced she would like to hold a snap general election on Thursday June 8.
In a speech outside 10 Downing Street on Tuesday morning, the prime minister said "we need a general election and we need one now".
An election had not been due until 2020. And Downing Street has repeatedly denied any suggestion that May might attempt to call an early poll.
Justifying her change of mind, May said an election was the "only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead" as the Brexit process begins.
To hold a general election, the government needs to win the support of two thirds of MPs.
"Tomorrow I will move a motion in the House of Commons calling for a general election to be held on the 8th of June," May said.
"The country is coming together but Westminster is not. Labour have threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach. The Lib Dems have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill. Unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way."
A YouGov survey for The Times on Monday gave the Conservatives a huge 21 point lead over Labour.
The survey showed May on 44% with Jeremy Corbyn's Labour trailing with just 23%. It is Labour's worst position according to YouGov since 2009.
Jeremy Corbyn has yet to comment on May's announcement.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said an election was a "chance to change the direction of our country".
"If you want to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit. If you want to keep Britain in the Single Market. If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance," he said. "Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority."
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