The Spectator

Portrait of the week | 20 April 2017

Also in Portrait of the Week: Prince Harry talks about his near-breakdown; President Erdogan of Turkey seizes more power


Theresa May, the Prime Minister, having repeatedly said that there would be no election until 2020, surprised the nation by suddenly standing at a lectern in Downing Street, while the wind ruffled her hair, and saying that she sought a general election on 8 June. ‘Britain is leaving the EU and there can be no turning back,’ she said. ‘The country is coming together but Westminster is not.’ She said later that she had taken the decision after a walking holiday in Wales, and had spoken to the Queen on Easter Monday. The Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, passed in 2011, required a two-thirds majority of all MPs (or a motion of no confidence) to allow an election to be called, but Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the Labour party, welcomed an election, saying it was a ‘chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first’. Tim Farron, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, said that the election would be a ‘chance to change the direction of our country’. The election would be decided in the 650 existing constituencies, as the Boundary Commission’s report on reducing the number to 600 is not due until 2018. The UK Independence Party said it would field a candidate in every constituency in England and Wales. Parliament would be dissolved after 2 May. The by-election at Manchester Gorton, due on 4 May, would not take place. George Osborne announced he would stand down as MP for Tatton – ‘for now’. No.10 said Mrs May would not take part in televised debates. Sir Lynton Crosby was appointed to play a leading role in the Conservatives’ campaign. Donald Tusk, the President of the European Council, tweeted: ‘It was Hitchcock who directed Brexit: first an earthquake and the tension rises.’

Prince Harry, as part of the Heads Together mental health campaign, told the Daily Telegraph: ‘I have probably been very close to a complete breakdown on numerous occasions.’

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