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COMMENT: Snap election was a carefully planned gamble

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Theresa May's General election announcement was predicted by nobody as Parliament prepared to creak back into gear following the Easter recess.

It is clearly not a decision she came to easily, despite the many allegations from opposition MPs that the move is little more than political opportunism,

writes Peter Madeley.

The idea of calling an election has not been dreamt up in five minutes. It is a possibility that it has been floated around in Cabinet circles since Mrs May took office in July.

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The smart money was always on there being no election, particularly with at least two years of extremely sensitive and complex Brexit negotiations on the horizon.

But having had a taste of the EU's likely negotiating stance, the Prime Minister has decided that she needs a bigger majority if she is to take on Brussels from a position of strength.

It is a gamble, and as such, it is most un-May-like.

She has carved out a career based on shrewd decisions. Patient politics is her game, rather than the crash and burn tactics adopted by the likes of her predecessor David Cameron.

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But Mrs May also knows when to strike, a quality best exemplified by how she positioned herself to take advantage of Cameron's post-referendum meltdown.

The current political climate suggests she has limited her exposure to risk.

The election throws up a head-spinning array of possible outcomes for the car crash that is Labour, most of which are bad.

If recent polls are any sort of guide, the party could be heading for its weakest election performance in decades.

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But while many Labour MPs will be concerned about retaining their seats, there will be plenty who know that a big Tory victory will finally see off Jeremy Corbyn.

A Tory landslide in June, which at this point seems entirely possible, will give Mrs May the mandate she so desperately craves.

Any remaining hopes for a second referendum will be extinguished, while the incessant arguments over exactly what British people voted for last June will be silenced once and for all.

The vote on June 8 will be Britain's verdict on Mrs May and her Government's vision for the UK in the post-Brexit world.

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