Reactions to British PM Theresa May calling for early election

Sterling surges against the dollar but UK shares slip to a two per cent loss after British Prime Minister Theresa May calls a snap general election to strengthen her hand in Brexit negotiations. VIDEO: REUTERS
(From left) Jeremy Corbyn, leader of opposition Labour Party; Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chamber of Commerce and Tim Farron, leader of opposition Liberal Democrats.
(From left) Jeremy Corbyn, leader of opposition Labour Party; Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chamber of Commerce and Tim Farron, leader of opposition Liberal Democrats.PHOTO: AFP
U.K. prime minister, Theresa May, announces a general election outside 10 Downing Street in London, U.K., on Tuesday, April 18, 2017.
U.K. prime minister, Theresa May, announces a general election outside 10 Downing Street in London, U.K., on Tuesday, April 18, 2017.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

LONDON (REUTERS)- British Prime Minister Theresa May called on Tuesday (April 18) for an early election on June 8, saying the government had the right plan for negotiating the terms of Britain's exit from the European Union and that she needed political unity in London.

Here is a look at reactions from politicians and experts:

JEREMY CORBYN, LEADER OF OPPOSITION LABOUR PARTY

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.

In the last couple of weeks, Labour has set out policies that offer a clear and credible choice for the country. We look forward to showing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain.

 
 
 

JOHN CURTICE, POLLING EXPERT AND PROFESSOR AT UNIVERSITY OF STRATHCLYDE

There is no doubt that the Conservatives are in a strong position in the opinion polls. That clearly would be enough to give Theresa May a quite substantial majority.

She's essentially saying the reason we need to have this (election) is because 'we need a government that has a clear majority that's committed to the version of Brexit I want.

There are divisions inside the Conservative Party (on Brexit). We'll see how they survive a general election, but the truth is the opposition is probably even more divided on the subject.

And she's probably therefore banking that so long as this remains the central issue, the Labour Party will not be capable of fighting an effective alternative position.

ADAM MARSHALL, DIRECTOR GENERAL OF THE BRITISH CHAMBERS OF COMMERCE

Many business communities will understandably be concerned that attention will inevitably shift from the economy and the intricacies of leaving the EU to a potential election campaign. Firms will want to be reassured that the key challenges facing the economy will be front and centre throughout any election period.

TERRY SCUOLER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OF MANUFACTURING ASSOCIATION EEF

We have significant negotiations to undertake with our partners in the rest of Europe and, doing this with a fresh and stable mandate from the country can only provide greater certainty about the future direction of travel for policy, and the potential to seek the best deal possible for the UK.

GUY LOUGHER, HEAD OF BREXIT ADVISORY AT LAW FIRM PINSENT MASONS

The outcome could have a profound impact on negotiations and could signal a complete U-turn on Brexit. This will depend on who wins the election and whether they have a clear majority in Parliament. "If the Conservatives are not re-elected with a working majority in the Commons it raises the possibility that any Brexit may be closer to maintaining continuity with the EU or might even be reversed.

NICOLA STURGEON, LEADER OF SCOTTISH NATIONAL PARTY

In terms of Scotland, this move is a huge political miscalculation by the Prime Minister. It will once again give people the opportunity to reject the Tories' narrow, divisive agenda, as well as reinforcing the democratic mandate which already exists for giving the people of Scotland a choice on their future.

LUKE BARTHOLEMEW, INVESTMENT MANAGER AT ABERDEEN ASSET MANAGEMENT

The election should hand Theresa May a much bigger mandate to stand up to the harder-line, anti-EU backbenchers who currently hold a disproportionate sway over her party's stance on Brexit. That would be welcomed by financial markets. There's also a decent chance of some volatility now with imminent elections in both the UK and France.

TIM FARRON, LEADER OF OPPOSITION LIBERAL DEMOCRATS

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. Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority.

SIMON DERRICK, HEAD OF GLOBAL RESEARCH AT BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON IN LONDON

For the moment at least it is not being seen as particularly a negative." "I guess people see that this may give Theresa May a better majority. It is a politically astute move and it should provide more stability going over the immediate aftermath of the exit from the EU.

DAVID CAMERON, FORMER CONSERVATIVE BRITISH PRIME MINISTER, ON TWITTER

Brave - and right - decision by PM Theresa May.

DEAN TURNER, ECONOMIST AT UBS WEALTH MANAGEMENT

The muted response in sterling, gilts and UK equities suggests markets are savouring the possibility of much-needed clarity around the government's Brexit negotiation stance.

ALAN CLARKE, ECONOMIST AT SCOTIABANK

The pound seems to be a little bit firmer on the news. I guess if it leads to a bit more certainty and you have a bigger majority for the Conservatives it means a little more certainty. I think it makes it hard for the Bank of England to hike imminently, but that wasn't on the cards anyway. It's slightly unfortunate timing as Q1 GDP might be disappointing at 0.4 per cent. But it will be worse later in the year so it is a 'now or never' decision.

IG GROUP, SPREAD BETTING COMPANY

The current prices in the markets reflect May's and the Conservatives strong leads in polling data. They show a 90 per cent chance of the Conservatives winning the most seats and an 87 per cent chance of a Conservative majority.

LADBROKES, BOOKMAKER

May's change of heart has caught everyone by surprise, but it's looking hard to see Labour springing their own on June 8th with the Tories long odds-on for victory.