Prime Minister Theresa May has announced she wants to call a snap general election on 8 June.

She said Britain needed stability and strong leadership following the EU referendum.

"The country is coming together, but Westminster is not. Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit," May said in a statement outside 10 Downing Street.

"I have concluded the only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead is to hold this election."

A snap general election is an election called much earlier than expected. Many snap elections have been held in Britain since the turn of the 20th century.

Since the Second World War, only the 2015 general election has been held at the latest possible date – being the first general election at the end of a fixed-term parliament.

Here are four examples of elections called by the government less than four years into their term.


One year after Conservative politician Andrew Bonar Law's victory, the Conservatives – led by Stanley Baldwin – called an election. Baldwin sought to raise tariffs and wanted to strengthen his own position in the party. Ultimately his plan backfired as the election produced a hung parliament. In 1924, Baldwin resigned and was replaced by Ramsay MacDonald, one of the main founders of the Labour Party.


Just a year later, MacDonald was forced to call an election after the Conservatives and Liberals delivered a vote of no confidence as a result of the Campbell Case – which involved charges against a British Communist newspaper editor over the publication of a controversial open letter to military members. This was the third general election in three years.


Following the Great Depression, MacDonald offered his resignation after his party split. Instead of stepping down, he formed a National Government with the Conservatives and Liberals – which resulted in him being expelled from the Labour Party. MacDonald was then forced to call the election – which resulted in the National Government winning with one of the biggest landslides in British history.


Prime Minister Edward Heath called an election in order to get a mandate to face down a miners' strike. Unexpectedly, it resulted in a hung parliament in which Labour won more seats by a narrow margin – despite taking less votes than the Conservatives. Heath resigned and was replaced by Harold Wilson.