Jeremy Corbyn rules out backing second referendum on final Brexit deal

UK PM calls for general election Full speech

At an appearance with her party's MPs outside Westminster, Ms Sturgeon said the Prime Minister was guilty of political opportunism for using the election to "crush the parliamentary opposition" to a hard Brexit.

But Mr Corbyn is apparently facing an uphill struggle, with a fresh YouGov opinion poll for the Times giving the Tories a 24-point lead over Labour, despite his denial that his party's defeat is a "foregone conclusion".

Opinion polls put the Conservatives - who now hold 330 of parliament's 650 seats - well ahead of Labour, who have 229.

PM Theresa May reversed her longstanding promise not to go to the polls early.

They voted 522 to 13 to authorise an early poll, with the Prime Minister easily securing the support of two-thirds of MPs required to dissolve Parliament and bring the election forward from the scheduled date of 2020.

Parliament will still sit for another fortnight, but party leaders wasted no time in hitting the campaign trail on Wednesday evening.

Several Labour lawmakers told The Guardian they felt their leader was too hasty in supporting a snap election based on Mrs May's terms and in a climate of national instability because of Brexit.

"The Prime Minister talks about a strong economy, but the truth is most people are worse off then they were when the Conservatives came to power seven years ago".

The First Minister said the SNP was fighting to win the election in Scotland, but did not need to secure a majority of the vote to keep up the pressure for a second independence referendum.

In fiery exchanges in the House of Commons yesterday, May said an early election would strengthen her hand against domestic critics seeking to frustrate the Brexit process, which formally began last month.

"Labour is the party that will put the interests of the majority first, while the Tories (Conservatives) only really care about those who already have so much", he said, adding this was why he was determined to "prove the establishment experts wrong and change the direction of this election".

The counter to that interpretation is that May wants a bigger majority because she's seeking a freer hand in negotiations with the European Union and therefore needs to strengthen her position within her own party.

But of course, they do not want us to win.

Leaders of European Union states are due to adopt negotiating guidelines at an April 29 summit, and the bloc will prepare detailed plans for the talks with Britain by late May.

May ruled out participating in televised debates with other leaders. "The result is not certain", she said in a speech at a GlaxoSmithKline factory in her electoral area of Maidenhead, west of London.

48% of bets in the "next Prime Minister" market backed Jeremy Corbyn on Wednesday. TV debates don't have a long history in British politics, but were a feature of the last two elections, in 2010 and 2015.