Newspaper headlines: May's 'bolt from the blue' sends 'stunned' UK to polls

  • Published

The general election is the only story on Wednesday's front pages - with pictures of Theresa May at the Downing Street lectern taking centre stage.

Headlines range from The Telegraph's "May's bolt from the blue" and "Crush the Saboteurs" (Daily Mail), to "The lady IS for U-turning" (Daily Mirror).

Mrs May's decision to seek a fresh mandate is broadly supported by the leader writers.

The Daily Mail describes it as brave and shrewd. It says it was her only way of clearing the political air, ending the "dirty tricks" of her "Remoaner enemies" and maximising her chances of driving the best possible Brexit deal.

In the Sun's view, prime ministers should have an election win behind them, especially if their agenda is so different from their predecessor's.

It is a point also made by the Financial Times, which says Mrs May clearly wishes to be a very different prime minister from David Cameron - yet she has been bound by his manifesto promises.

Image source, Reuters

But the Guardian questions the need for an early election. It says Britain does not need it and its people are not demanding it.

There is no crisis in the government. Mrs May is not losing votes in the Commons and neither is the House of Lords defying her. No legislation is at risk and there is no war and no economic crisis, the paper argues.

For the Mirror, Mrs May's dramatic change of heart has "absolutely everything to do with cynical Conservative calculations and nothing to do with what's best for Britain".

It says she's launched a breathtaking power grab - riding on the back of Brexit.

The Times notes that Mrs May has found the courage to do what Gordon Brown balked at when he took over from Tony Blair in 2007.

The Telegraph says it had been assumed that the provisions of the Fixed Term Parliaments Act made holding a snap election almost impossible.

But - it adds - confronted with the choice between fighting an election and looking cowardly by declining to support one, opposition leaders at Westminster have quickly fallen into line.

While the prime minister's revelation that she made the decision to go to the country during an Easter walking holiday in the Welsh hills with her husband is widely reported, several papers are sceptical.

The political editor of the Daily Express says few MPs will be convinced by the claim. She has a reputation for being a long-term thinker who meticulously plots her strategy months and even years in advance, he points out.