General Election 2017: Liberal Democrats gain 2,500 new members after Theresa May announcement

The Liberal Democrats have gained 2,500 new members since the announcement of plans for a snap general election.

More than 1,000 people joined the party within an hour of the news breaking, and that figure has already more than doubled.

Prime minister Theresa May said this morning that she wants the country to go back to the polls, as the Conservatives seek a mandate for their Brexit plans.

The decision to call a snap election was made partly because of Labour’s current perilous position and low standing in the opinion polls.

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But in the immediate aftermath of Mrs May’s announcement, it is the Liberal Democrat Party – not the Tories – who have enjoyed a bump in popularity.

Within an hour of the prime minister finishing her speech outside the steps of 10 Downing Street, the Lib Dems had gathered 1,000 new members.

By 2.30pm on Tuesday, that figure had reached 2,500.

The party is actively encouraging people to sign up at the top of its website’s homepage, with the message: ’I’m voting to change the direction of our country on Thursday 8th June’.

New members can fill in an online form to join immediately.

It marks a welcome boost for the Lib Dems, who had a disastrous 2015 general election, holding on to just eight of their previous 57 seats in parliament, the worst result in their history.

But the party’s clear anti-Brexit stance could make them a tempting alternative to the Conservatives if a general election goes ahead in two months, particularly with Labour floundering.

Following Mrs May’s announcement, Lib Dems leader Tim Farron told voters: ’This is your chance to change the direction of your country.’

His party has consistently called for a second referendum on the final Brexit deal Mrs May achieves after negotiations with the European Union, and want to keep the UK in the European single market.

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron (Picture: Rex)

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.’

In the 20 minutes after Mrs May’s announcement, the Lib Dems had gathered 500 new members, according to their Scottish MP Alistair Carmichael.

The party now has about 91,000 members, while Labour has more than 500,000.