Theresa May announces plan to hold early general election

Written by Rebecca Hill on 18 April 2017 in News
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The prime minister’s announcement of a general election on 8 June comes as influential House of Commons committee urges thorough stress-testing of Register to Vote website

Theresa May today announced an early general election - Photo credit: PA

The prime minister Theresa May has today announced that the government intends to hold an early general election on 8 June, to give “certainty and stability” to Brexit proceedings.

May said that the country was “coming together, but Westminster is not”, arguing that other political parties, as well as the "unelected" House of Lords are threatening to derail the Brexit process.

“Our opponents believe that because the government’s majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course,” she said. “They are wrong.”

The move is a U-turn even on May’s most recent statements about a snap election, with her spokesman saying last month that "there is not going to be a general election", although polls that came out over the weekend suggested she had up to a 21-point lead on her rival parties.

Under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliament Act, a two-thirds majority of all MPs need to agree to the early general election, and both the Liberal Democrats and Labour have indicated they will vote in support of a general election.


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May’s announcement will put pressure on the government team running the Register to Vote site under pressure, following the collapse of the site just two hours ahead of the registration deadline for the referendum on European Union membership.

Last week, the influential Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee published its report on lessons the government should learn from the referendum, which said that that a lack of technical leadership, contingency planning and testing of the site contributed to the crash.

The MPs pointed to a report by software consultants Equal Experts UK that found that roles and responsibilities for the site were “unclear” within the Cabinet Office, and that the testing of the website was “limited, and the conclusions drawn from the results were not sufficiently detailed or tested”.

PACAC recommended that the system be tested to the point of destruction and ensure it was taking “the necessary level of testing and precautions required to mitigate against any such surge in applications”.

The PACAC report also made reference to cyber security around elections and referenda, saying that the website crash “had indications” of being a distributed denial of service attack. And, despite saying it said that it had “no direct evidence” of this happening in the EU referendum, the committee said “it is important to be aware of the potential for foreign interference”.

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