Campaigning begins as MPs vote for snap General Election

Alan McGuinness, News Reporter

Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn have kicked off their General Election campaigns, just hours after MPs voted in favour of a snap poll on 8 June.

Addressing activists in the key Labour target seat of Croydon Central, Mr Corbyn said the election "is about the future of all of us - the future of our children, the future of social justice, the future of our jobs."

Mrs May gave a short speech in a parish hall in Walmsley, a village in the Labour-held constituency of Bolton North East.

Surrounded by party activists and supporters, the Prime Minister asked voters for the mandate to lead post-Brexit Britain and provide the "strong and stable leadership this country needs".

Earlier, MPs voted 522 to 13 in favour of an early General Election - giving Mrs May the support of two-thirds of MPs required to dissolve Parliament.

The Commons vote was a formality, given both Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron had previously said they welcomed the election, although Scottish National Party MPs abstained.

The Prime Minister's spokesman said the Government was aiming to dissolve Parliament on 3 May, 25 working days before election day.

Opening the debate on a snap poll, Mrs May said it was time "put our fate in the hands of the people and let the people decide".

She claimed a large Conservative majority would strengthen the Government's hand in getting a good Brexit deal and provide "strong and stable leadership in the national interest".

"We are determined to bring stability to the United Kingdom for the long term and that's what this election will be about - leadership and stability," Mrs May told MPs.

"The decision facing the country will be clear."

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Mr Corbyn said the election was an opportunity for voters to pass judgement on the Tories' record on austerity, cuts to the NHS and schools, child poverty and a crisis in housing.

He dismissed the Prime Minister's argument that she needs a fresh mandate to deliver Brexit, and said it was "extremely interesting" she had called for an election as the Crown Prosecution Service decides whether to press charges against a number of Tory MPs over allegations relating to 2015 election expenses.

The Labour leader said Mrs May's U-turn on her previous insistence that she would not call an election showed she could not be trusted.

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He told MPs: "We welcome the opportunity of a General Election because it gives the British people the chance to vote for a Labour government that will put the interests of the majority first.

"The Prime Minister talks about a strong economy, but the truth is most people are worse off than they were when the Conservatives came to power seven years ago. The election gives the British people the chance to change direction.

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"This election is about her Government's failure to rebuild the economy and living standards for the majority.

"It is about the crisis her Government has plunged our National Health Service into, the cuts to our children's schools which will limit the chances of every child in Britain, four million of whom now live in poverty."