Prime Minister has called an early general election

Prime Minister Theresa May

Prime Minister Theresa May

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Theresa May has called an early general election for June 8 in an announcement which has stunned Westminster.

Explaining her change of heart on an early election, Mrs May said: "I have concluded the only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead is to hold this election."

Here is the full text of Prime Minister Theresa May's statement from Downing Street announcing that a general election is to be held on June 8:

"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."