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Alastair Grant / AP

British Prime Minister Theresa May called for a general election to be held on June 8 — it was originally scheduled to take place in 2020.

It's a tumultuous time for the United Kingdom. The nation signaled its intent last month to leave the European Union, marking the beginning of a two-year negotiation period for the terms of Brexit. So why would Theresa May and her Conservative Party choose to start an election battle now, especially after saying over and over again that this wasn't going to happen?

Between the lines: This decision is all about the coming Brexit negotiations, but — not surprisingly — there's a hefty dose of political calculation in there, too.

May's public reasoning: "Our opponents believe because the government's majority is so small that our resolve will weaken and they can force us to change course. They are wrong. They underestimate our determination to get the job done … what they are doing jeopardizes the work we must do to prepare for Brexit at home and it weakens the government's negotiating position in Europe."

The political calculation: Labour's opposition is in shambles under the divisive leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, who doesn't have the backing of most of his MPs after losing a no-confidence vote after the EU referendum last year. A poll this weekend had a 21-point Tory lead over Labour in a general election and another yesterday had a 36-point lead for May as the best PM over Corbyn.

What May hopes will happen: May thinks she can get a Tory majority of over 100 in the House of Commons based on current sky-high polling numbers. (Right now, the Tories have a working majority of 17.) A sweeping victory will give her a significant mandate to lead as Brexit negotiations move forward.

What's next: Before 2011, the Prime Minister could simply dissolve Parliament and call a general election with royal backing. Now, under the Fixed-term Parliaments Act, May must obtain a two-thirds majority in the House of Commons to call an election. But Corbyn has already said that he "welcome[s] the Prime Minister's decision" in a statement. May said the vote will be tomorrow in the Commons, so the game is on.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Fauci fires back at Rand Paul for slam on tonight's "Axios on HBO"

Responding to charges by Sen. Rand Paul on Sunday's "Axios on HBO," NIAID director Anthony Fauci told "ABC This Week" that it's "molecularly impossible" for U.S.-funded bat virus research in China to have produced COVID-19.

Why it matters: The issue 0f Wuhan research was reignited on the right last week with a National Institutes of Health letter to Congress disclosing more about the research.

Manchin, Schumer huddle with Biden in Delaware to discuss spending bill

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (L) and Sen. Joe Manchin (R) at the U.S. Capitol on Nov. 13, 2014. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will meet with President Biden and Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Sunday morning in Delaware as Democrats look to reach an agreement on the massive spending measure.

Driving the news: Democrats are still negotiating what to keep in the bill and how to pay for it, with Biden saying on Thursday that the party does not have the votes to raise the corporate tax rate.

4 hours ago - Technology

Scoop: Facebook exec warns of "more bad headlines"

Illustration: Megan Robinson/Axios

In a post to staffers Saturday obtained by Axios, Facebook VP of global affairs Nick Clegg warned the company that worse coverage could be on the way: “We need to steel ourselves for more bad headlines in the coming days, I’m afraid.”

Catch up quick: Roughly two dozen news outlets had agreed to hold stories based on leaked materials from Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen for Monday publication — but the embargo fell apart Friday night as participating newsrooms posted a batch of articles ahead of the weekend.