I have just chaired a meeting of the cabinet, where we agreed that the government should call a general election, to be held on June 8. I want to explain the reasons for that decision, what will happen next and the choice facing the British people when you come to vote in this election.
Last summer, after the country voted to leave the European Union, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership, and since I became prime minister the government has delivered precisely that. Despite predictions of immediate financial and economic danger, since the referendum we have seen consumer confidence remain high, record numbers of jobs, and economic growth that has exceeded all expectations.
We have also delivered on the mandate that we were handed by the referendum result. Britain is leaving the European Union and there can be no turning back. And as we look to the future, the Government has the right plan for negotiating our new relationship with Europe. We want a deep and special partnership between a strong and successful European Union and a United Kingdom that is free to chart its own way in the world.
That means we will regain control of our own money, our own laws and our own borders and we will be free to strike trade deals with old friends and new partners all around the world. This is the right approach, and it is in the national interest. But the other political parties oppose it.
At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division. The country is coming together, but Westminster is not. In recent weeks Labour has threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach with the European Union. The Liberal Democrats have said they want to grind the business of government to a standstill.
The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain’s membership of the European Union. And unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way. Our opponents believe because the government’s majority is so small, that our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course. They are wrong.
They underestimate our determination to get the job done and I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country. Because what they are doing jeopardizes the work we must do to prepare for Brexit at home and it weakens the government’s negotiating position in Europe.
If we do not hold a general election now their political game-playing will continue, and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run up to the next scheduled election. Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country.
So we need a general election and we need one now, because we have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin. I have only recently and reluctantly come to this conclusion. Since I became prime minister I have said that there should be no election until 2020, but now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the decisions I must take.
And so tomorrow I will move a motion in the House of Commons calling for a general election to be held on June8. That motion, as set out by the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, will require a two-thirds majority of the House of Commons.
So I have a simple challenge to the opposition parties, you have criticized the government’s vision for Brexit, you have challenged our objectives, you have threatened to block the legislation we put before Parliament. This is your moment to show you mean it, to show you are not opposing the government for the sake of it, to show that you do not treat politics as a game.