British PM, queen mark end of parliament before June vote

2017-05-03 20:46
British Prime Minister Theresa May (AFP)

British Prime Minister Theresa May (AFP)

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London - British Prime Minister Theresa May visited Queen Elizabeth II on Wednesday to mark the dissolution of parliament ahead of next month's surprise election.

May called the June 8 vote last month, saying she wanted an increased mandate to take Britain into negotiations on leaving the European Union.

Lawmakers have already hit the campaign trail after parliamentary business finished on Thursday, but from now on are no longer MPs but candidates.

The audience between May and the head of state at Buckingham Palace was purely symbolic.

Traditionally, a prime minister was required to ask the monarch to dissolve parliament, but the 2011 Fixed-Term Parliaments Act made the process automatic.

May's Conservatives are expecting to increase their majority in the 650-seat House of Commons next month, as opinion polls give them a double-digit lead over the opposition Labour party.

After the election, the queen will summon the figure best-placed to command the confidence of the Commons - likely the leader of the largest party - and invite them to form a government as prime minister.

The new parliament will meet on June 13, when MPs will elect a new speaker.

The formal state opening of parliament by the queen, a ceremony full of pomp, will take place on June 19.

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