Theresa May has called a snap general election for June 8, claiming that divisions at Westminster risked hampering the Brexit negotiations.
The Prime Minister will require the support of two-thirds of MPs to go to the country, with a vote scheduled in the Commons on Wednesday after the surprise announcement on Tuesday morning.
The move stunned Westminster, as Mrs May and Number 10 have repeatedly insisted she would not seek a general election before the scheduled 2020 poll.
But Mrs May, who has a fragile working majority of just 17 in the Commons, said she wanted "unity" at Westminster as talks on Brexit begin in earnest with the European Union.
Justifying the decision, Mrs May said: "The country is coming together but Westminster is not."
She said the "division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit".
This week's Times voting intention figures see the Conservatives on 44% (from 42% last week) while Labour are on 23% (from 25% last week), giving the Tories a 21 point lead.
These results represent the lowest voting intention share for Labour since June 2009 when the party was in power and Gordon Brown was Prime Minister.
Elsewhere the Liberal Democrats are on 12% (from 11% last week), UKIP are on 10% (from 11%), and votes for other parties are at 10% (from 11%).
Theresa May continues to be the favoured choice for best Prime Minister, with 50% of people preferring her to Jeremy Corbyn. The Labour leader is backed by 14% of voters, whilst 36% don't know.
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