The election machine is rolling into action – here are the key dates:
• Tuesday April 18
Prime Minister Theresa May calls for a snap general election on June 8 to strengthen her hand going into the Brexit negotiations.
• Wednesday April 19
The Prime Minister tables a Commons motion calling for an election on June 8. It is the chance for MPs to give the green light for an election to take place. Under the terms of the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, a two-thirds majority of MPs is needed to bring the election forward by three years from the scheduled date of May 2020. There will be a short ‘wash-up’ period to clear up outstanding legislation such as the Finance Bill to enable the funding of government to carry on.
• Saturday April 29
European Union leaders are to meet in Brussels for a summit when the remaining 27 member states are expected to approve guidelines on Brexit.
A spokesman for European Council president Donald Tusk said: ‘The UK elections do not change our EU27 plans.
‘We expect to have the Brexit guidelines adopted by the European Council on April 29 and following that the Brexit negotiating directives ready on May 22.
‘This will allow the EU27 to start negotiations.’
• Wednesday May 3 – Parliament dissolved
Parliament is expected to be dissolved on Wednesday May 3, 25 working days before polling. It marks the start of the official campaign.
• Thursday May 4 – Local elections
Full contests are due for 34 English councils, including 27 county councils, and for all 32 Scottish councils and all 22 Welsh councils.
The total number of seats up for election is slightly down from the 4,871 seats currently held to 4,851 seats as a result of boundary changes at some councils.
Elections are to be held in England for directly elected mayors in six devolved new super-regions plus two existing councils.
With a snap general election having been called it now seems unlikely that the Commons by-election at Manchester Gorton, which had been set for May 4 after the death of veteran Labour MP Sir Gerald Kaufman, will go ahead on this day.
• Sunday May 7 – France chooses a new president
On the back of Britain’s Brexit referendum and the election of Donald Trump as US president, it will be a decision which will be of huge interest internationally.
• Thursday May 11 – Likely deadline for nominations
Voters should have a good idea about which candidates are running, who is standing down and who has been deselected.
• Monday May 22 – Likely deadline for registering to vote
• Wednesday May 31 – Likely deadline for making an application for a proxy vote so that your ballot can be cast by someone on your behalf.
• Tuesday June 6 to Thursday June 8 – State visit by the King and Queen of Spain
The Queen is hosting King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia of Spain on a state visit to the United Kingdom. The King and Queen of Spain will stay at Buckingham Palace.
• Thursday June 8 – Polling day
The outcome of the general election is likely to become clear in the early hours of the next morning.
• New opening of Parliament
Assuming there is a clear majority and no delay, the opening could be in the week starting June 12.