- Prime Minister calls early general election for June 8
- Theresa May: Division 'risks ability to make success of Brexit
- May had repeatedly denied she would call a snap election
- PM will decline any invitation to take part in TV debates
- Jeremy Corbyn backs early vote despite Labour poll struggles
- Alan Johnson among three MPs who will not seek re-election
- Q&A: When will it be held, why now and how will it work?
- Graphs: How the Tories could have a 200-seat lead over Labour
- Sterling soars but FTSE dives after May names election date
- Analysis: Snap election gives May ultimate Brexit mandate
Theresa May has called a snap general election for June 8, claiming that divisions at Westminster risked hampering the Brexit negotiations.
The Prime Minister will require the support of two-thirds of MPs to go to the country, with a vote scheduled in the Commons on Wednesday after the surprise announcement on Tuesday morning.
The move stunned Westminster, as Mrs May and Number 10 have repeatedly insisted she would not seek a general election before the scheduled 2020 poll.
But Mrs May, who has a fragile working majority of just 17 in the Commons, said she wanted "unity" at Westminster as talks on Brexit begin in earnest with the European Union.
Speaking outside Number 10, the Prime Minister said the Cabinet had agreed to call an early election. It later emerged that Mrs May had phoned the Queen yesterday to inform her of her intention.
The move takes place against the backdrop of the country's decision to leave the European Union in last year's referendum.
Justifying the decision, Mrs May said: "The country is coming together but Westminster is not."
She said the "division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit".
Senior Tories had urged Mrs May to call an early election, taking advantage of the Conservatives' healthy opinion poll lead over Jeremy Corbyn's Labour.
Mrs May suggested she reached her decision over the Easter parliamentary recess - during which she went on a walking holiday in North Wales.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn welcomed Mrs May's calls for an early election saying it will "give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first."
However, two of his MPs - Alan Johnson and Tom Blenkinsop - announced they will not stand for re-election, along with Conservative MP Simon Burns.
Click here to read May's statement in full and stay with us for the latest updates today.
Labour will not use 'trigger ballots'
Proposals for Labour MPs to face "trigger ballots" of constituency members to secure their place as candidates in the election appear to have been blocked.
The Huffington Post reported that Mr Corbyn would use a meeting of the party's ruling National Executive Committee on Wednesday to argue for the ballots, with MPs who fail to secure 50% backing having to submit themselves to an open selection process against other potential candidates.
But it is understood that the party has decided internally that there will be no trigger ballots.
Mr Corbyn's office declined to comment on what it described as a leak of "ongoing discussions".
Alex Salmond accuses May of "opportunism"
Alex Salmond has accused Theresa May of "blatant opportunism" in calling a snap general election.
The former Scottish first minister and ex-SNP leader said the Prime Minister was seeking to capitalise on the "weakness" in Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party and as a result had "dashed" to call a ballot.
He confirmed his intention to stand in the June 8 poll, saying he would again put himself forward to be a candidate for the "wonderful" constituency of Gordon.
And he claimed it was the SNP who would offer the "real opposition" to the Conservatives and their "hard right agenda".
Will there be TV debates?
Theresa May will decline any invitation to take part in televised debates held in the run-up to a general election proposed for June 8, it is understood.
Tory Party sources said the Prime Minister will not be taking part in the customary pre-election TV debates, which have become a regular event in the UK’s election cycle.
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron called on the broadcasters to "empty chair" her, saying the decision not to take part was an "attempt to dodge scrutiny".
.@theresa_may you debated me in 1992, so debate me now. What changed?— Tim Farron (@timfarron) April 18, 2017
John Bercow will stand
Just in from The Telegraph's chief political correspondent:
Sources: John Bercow WILL stand in the June 8 election, allowing him to stay as Speaker until 2022 if he wants— Christopher Hope �� (@christopherhope) April 18, 2017
How to make sure you have your say on snap election date
With the snap election set for June 8, here's everything you need to know about registering to vote:
Whoops! Ukip spells Prime Minister's name wrong in email declaring 'we are ready to fight'
It was an email designed to show Ukip was ready to battle in the June general election. But they should have perhaps spell-checked Theresa May's name...
MPs will be asked to vote in the Commons on Wednesday
The Prime Minister will table a Commons motion tomorrow calling for an election to be held on Thursday June 8.
Under the terms of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act, passed under the last coalition government, she needs a two-thirds majority. With both Labour and the Liberal Democrats saying they will support the motion, the outcome should be a formality.
Here's the announcement of tomorrow's business in the Commons:
Alan Johnson third MP to announce they will not stand for re-election
Alan Johnson, the Labour MP for Hull West and former Home Secretary, has announced he will not stand for re-election on June 8.
He is the third politician to do so after Tom Blenkinsop, the Labour MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, and Simon Burns, the Conservative MP for Chelmsford, did the same.
In a letter to colleagues, Mr Johnson wrote:
"As far as the constituency and the Party are concerned, no MP wants to put them through the anguish of a mid-term by-election, so for me the personal decision is whether to retire now or in 2022 when I’ll be into my 70s.
"I’ve decided that going now will give me the opportunity to do other things with my life and is therefore in the best interests of me and my family. I also think it’s best for the Party."
'Bring it on!' Sir Vince Cable confirms he will stand in snap election
Sir Vince Cable confirmed that he will stand as Liberal Democrat candidate for Twickenham in the snap election, declaring: "Bring it on!"
The former business secretary held the south-west London seat from 1997 to 2016, when he was the most prominent victim of the party's electoral collapse.
With a slim Conservative majority of just 2,017 and strong local opposition to hard Brexit, Twickenham represents one of the party's best hopes of claiming a Tory scalp.
I plan to lead fight back to recapture Twickenham for Lib Dems. Brexit. Heathrow. School cuts. Social care. Plenty to campaign on.— Vince Cable (@vincecable) April 18, 2017
Sir Vince said he was "surprised" Mrs May had gone back on her pledge to wait until 2020.
While Brexit was "a big issue for people in this area, with a Remain vote of about 70%", he said he would also be campaigning on topics like Heathrow expansion, social care and cuts to local schools.
'Mischief, mayhem and guerrilla warfare': Nigel Farage and the 'bad boys of Brexit' prepare for election
Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader, has met with the "bad boys of Brexit" to organise the "mischief" the four plan to cause during the general election.
After the surprise announcement, he got together with the other three Brexiteers - Richard Tice, Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore.
They posed together with their thumbs up in the picture Mr Wigmore posted to his Twitter account:
Norman Lamb: There will be a Conservative government
Norman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat politician, has said Britain will have another Conservative government after the snap election - as he positioned Lib Dems as the next opposition. He told Sky News:
"I think there's a real opportunity to win many seats back again, certainly the South West.
"Places like South West London also have a very strong Remain vote... they are very confused about Theresa May's hard Brexit.
"It gives the country the opportunity to have their say about the direction the country takes.
"We have the decision to go for a very hard Brexit or a soft Brexit where we still get a good deal with the EU and remain in the Single Market.
"We have to respect the outcome, but it's the sort of deal that is done now and the business community is deeply concerned about a deal that puts us right outside the Single Market.
"I don't see any prospect I'm afraid of Labour winning this election, so we will have a Tory government, I'm pretty sure of that, so we need an effective opposition."
'Snap election will give the ultimate Brexit mandate'
Here's Asa Bennett, Telegraph Assistant Comment Editor, explaining why a snap general election will give Theresa May the ultimate mandate to deliver on Brexit.
European Commission source: Snap election does not change Brexit timetable
A European Commission source said the EU has "some hope" that the election "will lead to a strong leader in London that can negotiate with us with strong backing by the electorate".
The source also backed Downing Street's assertion that the election would not change the Brexit timetable.
"This does not change things," they said. "We are ready. Early June was always the calendar."
Tories targeting landslide as polls make grim reading for Labour
The Conservatives go into the general election riding high in the polls and confident of returning with an overwhelming majority.
The latest clutch of opinion polls have put the Tories more than 20 points ahead of Labour suggesting they could be on course for a landslide.
While there will be caution about placing too much weight on the polls after the experience of the 2015 election, when they failed to forecast a Tory victory, the confidence in the Conservative ranks is palpable.
With the main opposition in disarray, there were Tory MPs talking openly about the prospect of "slaughtering" Labour at the polls.
Theresa May will go to the country promising that they are the only party which can be trusted to deliver on last year's referendum vote for Brexit and negotiate the best deal for Britain.
The Prime Minister will be looking to strengthen her position in the Commons, where she has a slender working majority of just 17, and stamp her authority on her own party .
Currently she is vulnerable to rebellions by relatively small numbers of Conservative backbenchers if they can combine with the opposition parties.
She will also be hoping that gaining her own mandate will enable her to pursue her vision of Brexit, and to face down hardliners in her own ranks who may be unhappy at some of the trade-offs that emerge in the negotiations.
Brexit Secretary David Davis said an increased Tory majority at Westminster would also strengthen the Government's hand in the forthcoming talks with the remaining EU 27 on the terms of Britain's withdrawal.
"Out in the country the vast majority of people want us to get on with it whether they voted Remain or Leave and get a good outcome," he told BBC Radio 4's The World At One.
Ready and raring to go? Telegraph cartoonist's take on snap election
Here's Telegraph cartoonist Christian Adams' take on Theresa May's snap election announcement - and Jeremy Corbyn's response.
Your questions answered: Why now - and how will it work?
It might seem like only yesterday that Britain went to the polls over Brexit, might we are now only 50 days away from a general election.
But why now and how will it be held? Christopher Hope, the Telegraph's Chief Political Correspondent explains all here.
Tusk compares May to Alfred Hitchcock: 'First an earthquake and the tension rises'
Donald Tusk, the European Council President, has compared Theresa May to Alfred Hitchcock as he described how Britain's Brexit preparations are going:
It was Hitchcock, who directed Brexit: first an earthquake and the tension rises.— Donald Tusk (@donaldtusk) April 18, 2017
Other European politicians have already started speculating about what impact the election will have on Brexit talks.
Polish MEP Ryszard Czarnecki, who represents the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists party, said the snap election was a "good move".
The British-born politician added: "The Tories probably win, and GB will have a stronger mandate for the negotiations with the EU on Brexit."
Jo Leinen, a German member of the Social Democratic Party, said: "The elections in £GB on the 8th June are the perfect opportunity - especially for the young generation - to avert hard Brexit."
Meanwhile, Czech MEP Petr Jezek, of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, said: "Theresa May sets the date of Jeremy Corbyn's departure".
Early election call 'shows disdain for Northern Ireland'
Theresa May has shown "disdain" for Northern Ireland by calling a snap general election amid intense efforts to restore powersharing, a nationalist leader has said.
The third electoral contest in the region in just over a year beckons against a backdrop of political instability.
Another Stormont ballot cannot be ruled out if a deal forging a devolved administration is not struck within days.
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) chief Colum Eastwood said: "It tells you all you need to know about Theresa May that she would call a snap Westminster election in the middle of intense efforts to restore powersharing government to Northern Ireland.
"From the beginning of her tenure as British Prime Minister she has shown very little but disinterest and disdain for this place.
"As Theresa May seeks a mandate for a hard Brexit from an English electorate, people here have an opportunity to unite behind parties which have defended their will and sought to protect our values."
Northern Ireland voted Remain by a majority of 56 per cent to 44 per cent, although some large mainly unionist areas opted for an exit.
Chancellor: Early election strengthens 'negotiating hand in Europe'
Chancellor Philip Hammond said the decision to call an early election would strengthen Mrs May's "negotiating hand in Europe".
Right decision - it's in the national interest to call a GE, strengthening PM's negotiating hand in Europe. #GE2017— Philip Hammond (@PHammondMP) April 18, 2017
He added that the move would ensure "strong leadership", "certainty" and "stability".
Meanwhile, former Cabinet minister John Redwood, a prominent Eurosceptic, noted that the pound had risen against the dollar "on news that Mrs May is seeking a new mandate to implement Brexit".
The pound has risen against both the dollar and the Euro on news that Mrs May is seeking a new mandate to implement Brexit.— John Redwood (@johnredwood) April 18, 2017
'We are all Brenda': Hilarious video of shocked woman reacting to news sparks empathy
When BBC reporter Jon Kay informed a woman called Brenda that Theresa May had called a snap general election on June 8, she was not impressed...
The tweet has been retweeted hundreds of times - and many people empathise with her view.
One social media user wrote: "Not sure what her politics are.. but I'm with Brenda from Bristol.
Another said: "Brenda from Bristol West for PM!"
In numbers: Key figures related to general election
The country will go to the polls little more than two years since the Conservatives, led then by David Cameron, won the 2015 election against Ed Miliband's Labour Party, with the Scottish National Party leapfrogging the Liberal Democrats to become the third largest party in the Commons.
Here are some key numbers connected to the upcoming general election:
Words in Mrs May's statement outside 10 Downing Street on Tuesday.
The number of days between the last general election on May 7 2015 and the next one on June 8 (including both election days).
Days between the EU referendum on June 23 2016 and the general election called for June 8 (including both election days).
The number of days Mrs May will have been Prime Minister on June 8, having been invited to form a Government by the Queen on July 13 2016.
Days until polling day on June 8.
The Conservatives' working majority in the House of Commons. The Tories have 330 MPs, Labour have 229, the SNP 54 and the Liberal Democrats have nine.
Sturgeon: 'One of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history'
In a longer statement from the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon described the announcement as "one of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history", and said Mrs May is "once again putting the interests of her party ahead of those of the country". Scotland's First Minister said:
"She is clearly betting that the Tories can win a bigger majority in England given the utter disarray in the Labour Party.
"That makes it all the more important that Scotland is protected from a Tory Party which now sees the chance of grabbing control of government for many years to come and moving the UK further to the right - forcing through a hard Brexit and imposing deeper cuts in the process.
"That means that this will be - more than ever before - an election about standing up for Scotland, in the face of a right-wing, austerity-obsessed Tory government with no mandate in Scotland but which now thinks it can do whatever it wants and get away with it.
"It will once again give people the opportunity to reject the Tories' narrow, divisive agenda, as well as reinforcing the democratic mandate which already exists for giving the people of Scotland a choice on their future.
"The SNP will always put the people of Scotland first - and between now and June 8, we will work harder than ever to retain the trust of the people."
Politics professor: May's move 'may appear both cynical and hypocritical'
Professor Martin Smith, head of the University of York's politics department, said: "There is a danger that the Prime Minister's decision to call a snap election may appear both cynical and hypocritical.
"She had indicated several times that she would not do so and in order to do so she has to shift away from fixed term elections introduced by her predecessor.
"Clearly the reason for the election is that with Labour so weak in the polls, it is an opportunity for the Conservatives to win a landslide victory.
"With a large Conservative majority, the government will be able to get through any Brexit deal.
"Of course, there are going to be several difficulties for the Conservatives in the election campaign including the impact on Scotland and the potential for a second referendum, and a focus in the campaign on what sort of post-EU Britain the Conservatives want."
Brexit, Trump and being a female PM: Theresa May's best quotes
Here are the 12 most powerful quotes from her time so far as Prime Minister.
What is the Fixed-term Parliaments Act ?
Since the Fixed-term Parliaments Act was passed, the decision to call a general election must now be decided by the House of Commons and not the prime minister like in the past.
But what exactly is it? Here's everything you need to know.
Jeremy Corbyn refuses to say if he would stand down if Labour loses election
Asked if he would stand down if Labour loses the general election, Jeremy Corbyn said: "We are campaigning to win this election, that's the only question now", reports Kate McCann.
He added: "I welcome the opportunity for us to put the case to the people of Britain
"We're challenging the economic narrative that says there have to be huge cuts in public expenditure to pay for the banking crisis of 2008 ...invest in the future invest in infrastructure."
Asked about whether Labour is coming from behind because of May's surprise decision, he said: "I'm starting straight away and I'm looking forward to it we will take our message to every single part of this country."
At least one Downing Street figure is not bothered by snap election...
While the rest of Westminster goes into meltdown over Theresa May's announcement, Larry the Downing Street cat does not appear to be bothered...
How politicians reacted to the announcement
Theresa May phoned Queen yesterday to inform her of intention
Christopher Hope reports from a briefing to Lobby journalists:
Theresa May told the Queen by phone yesterday that she wanted to hold an election on June 8, her official spokesman has said.
The House of Commons is expected to dissolve on May 3. Mrs May is in Number 10 today.
The vote tomorrow requires 434 MPs to vote for the election, Number 10 says.
The Prime Minister's official spokesman will not say more than the statement on what has changed, referring calls to political aides.
Theresa May's new 'lucky look': A navy pinstripe shift dress (with leopard print kitten heels)
Clearly Theresa May meant what she said when she promised Vogue that she would be retiring the black watch tartan Vivienne Westwood suit which had been dubbed her 'lucky' outfit after she wore it to launch her Tory leadership bid and then to deliver the key speech outlining her Brexit plans at the beginning of the year, reports Bethan Holt, the Telegraph's Digital Fashion Editor.
Instead, May has a new lucky look - a navy pinstripe shift dress with asymetric draping details. She did bring back one trusty wardrobe favourite though - her famous L.K Bennett leopard print kitten heels.
Lib Dems claim to have gained 1,000 members in hour
After Theresa May's shock announcement, the Liberal Democrats claim to have gained 1,000 new members in an hour.
Sal Brinton, president of the Liberal Democrats, said: “This is a time when liberals must stand together, and people across the country are doing just that.
“The surge in our membership proves that the Liberal Democrats are seen as the real opposition to this Conservative Brexit Government."
Downing Street Director of Communications quits
Katie Perrior, Downing Street's Director of Communications, has announced she is quitting. She said in a statement to Guido Fawkes:
"Always said I wouldn't stay past an election. Good decision, right choice. A vote for Theresa May and a Conservative Government is the only route forward. As for me - new opportunities ahead. Exciting times!"
She will be missed in Westminster, says the Telegraph's Chief Political Correspondent Christopher Hope:
That is sad. Katie is lovely and I wish her all the best. https://t.co/0azuYxo0fr— Christopher Hope �� (@christopherhope) April 18, 2017
Arron Banks to stand against Douglas Carswell in Clacton
Arron Banks, the Ukip donor, has confirmed that he will stand against Douglas Carswell, the former Ukip MP who announced last month he was quitting to stand as an independent, in Clacton.
Meanwhile, Ukip leader Paul Nuttall has welcomed the general election on Twitter:
We welcome the General Election, but make no mistake - it is driven by Labour's obvious weakness, not the good of the country— Paul Nuttall (@paulnuttallukip) April 18, 2017
Moderate Labour MP and Corbyn critic will not stand for re-election
A moderate Labour MP who has been a consistently staunch critic of Mr Corbyn revealed he will not stand for re-election in the snap vote.
Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Tom Blenkinsop criticised the leader last week after Labour lost a Middlesbrough council seat to the Tories on a by-election swing of eight per cent.
I will not be standing for re-election https://t.co/i9RlO4OTUX— Tom Blenkinsop (@TomBlenkinsop) April 18, 2017
In a statement he said:
“I have made no secret about my significant and irreconcilable differences with the current Labour leadership. It is because of these differences I feel I cannot in good faith stand as the Labour candidate for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland.
“Representing the people of Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland has been the proudest years of my life.
“I will do all I can in my time remaining as an MP to champion my constituents and the area that means so much to me, as I have been proud to do over the last 7 years.”
Nicola Sturgeon: Let's stand up for Scotland
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the Tories "see a chance to move the UK to the right, force through a hard Brexit and impose deeper cuts" and added "let's stand up for Scotland".
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron: We can change direction of our country'
Tim Farron, Liberal Democrat leader, said the early general election will be an opportunity for voters to "change the direction of our country".
He said: “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.”
Timeline: How has Theresa May's leadership played out to date?
Graph: What are voters' intentions if there was a general election tomorrow?
David Cameron hails 'brave and right' decision by Theresa May
Jeremy Corbyn welcomes snap election: 'Labour will stand up for the people of Britain'
A statement from Jeremy Corbyn has just arrived:
"I welcome the Prime Minister’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first.
"Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to our schools and NHS.
"In the last couple of weeks, Labour has set out policies that offer a clear and credible choice for the country. We look forward to showing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain."
I welcome the PM’s decision to give the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first pic.twitter.com/9P3X6A2Zpw— Jeremy Corbyn MP (@jeremycorbyn) April 18, 2017
Sterling jumps after announcement following earlier dip
The pound bounced back into positive territory after Prime Minister Theresa May announced an early general election.
It sent the pound up 0.1 per cent against the US dollar to 1.257, recovering from a 0.3 per cent drop just an hour earlier.
Versus the euro, the pound was hovering near the flatline at 1.180, rising from a 0.4% loss.
Investors were digesting news of the snap election, as Downing Street had previously denied plans for a poll before 2020.
In full: Theresa May's speech
Click here for 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. Here are the key quotes:
"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."
'Let's get the band back together': MPs react to snap general election
Members of Parliament have reacted on social media to the news of a snap general election called by Theresa May this morning.
So 8th June then, let's get the band back together #GeneralElection— Owen Thompson MP (@OwenThompson) April 18, 2017
Another quiet day in Westminster then..— Nigel Adams MP (@nigeladamsmp) April 18, 2017
Delighted that Prime Minister @theresa_may has announced her intention to call a General Election for 8th June— Andrew Stephenson MP (@Andrew4Pendle) April 18, 2017
So much for putting country before party— Jess Phillips MP (@jessphillips) April 18, 2017
'Vote Tory, or Brexit is screwed' Michael Deacon's take on Theresa May's announcement
Here's what Michael Deacon, the Telegraph's Political Sketchwriter, thought of Theresa May's statement:
Extraordinarily blunt message from Theresa May, attacking other parties for threatening Brexit with their "game-playing". Quite explicitly, she's saying to the public: vote Tory, or Brexit is screwed
As Theresa May says a successful Brexit can only be achieved with a big Tory majority - where does this leave Ukip? Will Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall agree, and not fight the election? How will they counter Mrs May's argument that Brexit requires a Tory landslide?
Anti-Corbyn Labour MPs will be in a dilemma. Will they really relish voting for a general election? On the one hand, a general election represents their best chance of getting rid of Jeremy Corbyn. On the other hand, it also puts their own jobs at risk...
'It is necessary to secure a strong and stable leadership this country needs'
Theresa May concluded by saying it was "with reluctance" that she reached her decision, but added: "It is with strong conviction that I believe it is necessary to secure a strong and stable leadership this country needs."
Why she changed her mind over early election
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."
'Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit'
The Prime Minister said "division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit".
May: 'The country is coming together, but Westminster is not'
Justifying the decision, Mrs May said: "The country is coming together, but Westminster is not."
Breaking: General Election to be held on June 8
Theresa May has just confirmed that a General Election will be held on June 8.
Will General Election be announced for June 8?
According to one source quoted by the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg, Theresa May could call a General Election for June 8. These reports are unconfirmed at this stage. We're expecting to hear from the Prime Minister in the next 25 minutes.
Hearing May will announce General Election for June 8th - one source not confirmed— Laura Kuenssberg (@bbclaurak) April 18, 2017
Security source plays down suggestion announcement is about fight on terror
A senior security source has told The Telegraph they are unaware of any major air strikes or developing hostage situation overnight, reports Ben Riley-Smith.
The source played down the suggestion that Theresa May’s statement outside Number 10 would announce the killing of a major extremist.
Leading jihadist figures have been killed in the Middle East in recent months and no announcement has been made to the Press, the source added.
The comments downplay the expectation that the Prime Minister’s statement will be about the fight on terror – though does not rule it out, as the news may have been kept within Number 10.
The last time Theresa May spoke outside No. 10... with official badge on lectern
Here's the moment Theresa May last spoke to the nation outside Number 10 - when she succeeded David Cameron. You'll notice the lectern has an official government badge on it. The lack of a badge on today's lectern is leading to speculation of a personal or party statement.
Profile: From vicar's daughter... to Prime Minister
Video: Theresa May in 90 seconds
Lecturn in Downing Street raises questions as to nature of statement
There is no official badge on the lectern in Downing Street which suggests either a personal statement or a party announcement.
Value of the pound falls after news of Theresa May's announcement
The financial markets have reacted to news of the Prime Minister's statement with the value of the pound falling sharply.
Not sure what Theresa May's statement is about, but the sterling currency markets have already reacted... pic.twitter.com/jdsSliZuSo— Paul McNamara (@PGMcNamara) April 18, 2017
How would an early general election be called?
Until 2010 prime ministers were able to call an election as they chose but the Fixed-terms Parliament Act (FTPA) introduced fixed elections taking place every five years.
The next election is due to take place in 2020.
However, there has been speculation that Mrs May could opt to call a poll early.
There are only two ways to get round the FTPA: First, if more than two thirds of all MPs vote to call an election.
Second, if a motion of no confidence is passed in the government, and nobody else forms a new government and wins a vote of confidence within 14 days.