Theresa May has announced she will ask Parliament to vote for a snap general election on the 8th June 2016. This story is ongoing and will be updated as events unfold, newest updates first.
Labour MP Jess Philips is one of a number of voices criticising Theresa May for her opportunism.
"I think that Theresa May has lied to the country again and again - and she is being opportunistic. I think it is rubbish what she is saying about a country divided - she obviously doesn't live round where I live. People just want to get on with their lives. She's playing a game and its a shame. I don't think there was any appetite for a general election from the public and this is Westminster politics once again."
That's certainly a view backed up here:
Most parties spend quite a lot of time choosing which candidates to run, and this can often be a bureaucratic process between local party members and national organisational committees. It's not yet clear how long MPs will have to register to get their name on the ballot but presumably they'll need to in the next week or two. This could cause a huge headache for Labour, and the smaller parties. Labour will have an emergency NEC meeting, and may have to impose candidates on local parties.
With the subject line, "ahhhhh!" we emailed Glaswegian VICE contributor Liam Turbett, to ask what the election will mean for Scotland. Here's what he said:
It will be a referendum on a future iindependence referendum. That suits the SNP and the Scottish Tories. SNP will probably lose some seats but still do well and win by a large margin, the Tories will pick up more than their current one seat. The question is whether Tory vote share in Scotland is big enough to undermine the SNP's mandate for second indyref – which is currently quite strong.
Every Scottish council is up for election on 4th May too. The Tories (and to a lesser extent Labour) have already been trying to make independence their entire focus of that, so easy to see how that will transfer to General Election campaign.
12:05: One of the less-spoken about reasons for an early election – that it will make it harder for prosecutions to be made over alleged expenses fraud:
12:00: In case you were worried:
11:50: Quite a few people pointing out that May's message to Scotland – that they can't have a second referendum because we need to get on with Brexit – looks very weak now we are pausing Brexit to have a general election.
11:45: Jeremy Corbyn has made his statement via Facebook like a mum who really wants to get her piece out.
Earlier: Theresa May just stood outside Downing Street and did a very dramatic speech that sounded part-Thatcher, part Dalek. She said it is with reluctance that she called an election, but with determination that she will fight it.
In particular she said that without a mandate, opposition parties will try and scupper Brexit efforts.
"The country is coming together, but Westminster is not. In recent weeks Labour has threatened to vote against the deal 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 that because the Government's majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course. They are wrong."
Tim Farron, leader of the Liberal Democrats, is the first opposition leader to comment on the election:
"This election is your 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. Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority."
The biggest reason for this election is that May recognises how weak Corbyn's Labour are. According to a recent YouGov poll, 50 percent of people believe she would be a better prime minister compared to just 14 percent for Jeremy Corbyn.
At least one Labour MP has already announced that they will not stand for re-election. In every election cycle there are a fair amount of MPs who choose not to run, but there may be a number of Labour members in particular who use this as an opportunity to bow out of the party while they're at odds with the current leadership.
Still no announcement from Labour, but the Greens have popped up. This from Caroline Lucas:
"Britain is at a crossroads – and today's announcement means that people are rightly given a say over the direction this country is going to take. Only the Green party offers a bold, positive vision for a different kind of Britain. At this election we will stand for an economy that works for everyone, not just the privileged few; a Britain that's open to the world and the protection of our precious environment. We will stand up to the politics of hatred and division that is scarring our communities and give people across the country a chance to vote for a better Britain."