British lawmakers have, as expected, voted in favour of the snap election proposed yesterday by Prime Minister Theresa May, setting the date for June 8.
MPs from across the political spectrum voted 522-13 for a return to the polls — well above the two-thirds majority required under British law.
May said the election is needed to stabilize her Conservative Party and the British government ahead of negotiations to leave the European Union. The next general election wasn't due until 2020, one year after Brexit talks are scheduled to conclude.
"I believe that at this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster not division," she said as MPs debated in Parliament.
"That's why it is the right and responsible thing for all of us here today to vote for a general election."
But May, who had repeatedly ruled out the possibility of an early election, has faced criticism for the sudden reversal.
"How can any voter trust what the prime minister says?" asked Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party.
May's Conservatives have 330 seats in the 650-seat House of Commons and are polling well ahead of Labour, the main Opposition party. Parliament will be dissolved on May 2.
The prime minister's own personal ratings also dwarf those of Corbyn, with 50 per cent of those asked saying she would make the best prime minister. Corbyn wins only 14 per cent, according to pollster YouGov.
May, previously the interior minister, took over as prime minister following the resignation of David Cameron last year after voters said Yes to Brexit.
The Conservatives have ruled for seven years. They formed part of a coalition government in 2010, a majority in 2015 and are expected to return to power on June 8, which would hand May a new mandate for a series of reforms she wants to make and also a vote of confidence for her vision of a "hard" Brexit.
A number of MPs abstained from Wednesday's vote, including those with the Scottish National Party.
May earlier ruled out participating in televised debates with other leaders. TV debates don't have a long history in British politics, but were a feature of the last two elections, in 2010 and 2015.