Prime Minister Theresa May has won parliament's backing for an early election, a vote she says will strengthen her hand in divorce talks with the European Union and help heal divisions in Britain.
May surprised allies and opponents on Tuesday when she announced her plan to bring forward an election that was not due until 2020, saying she needed to avoid a clash of priorities in the sensitive final stages of the two-year Brexit talks.
After addressing a rowdy session of the House of Commons on Wednesday, May won the support of 522 lawmakers in the 650-seat parliament for an election on June 8. Only 13 voted against.
With May seen winning a new five-year mandate and boosting her majority in parliament by perhaps 100 seats, the pound held close to six-and-a-half month highs on hopes she may be able to clinch a smoother, more phased departure from the EU and minimise damage to the UK economy.
The former interior minister, who became prime minister without an election when her predecessor David Cameron quit after last year's referendum, enjoys a runaway lead over the main opposition Labour Party in opinion polls.
She has also played up the strength of the economy - a key campaign theme that her Conservative Party will use to try to undermine Labour in the election.
A victory would give May a powerful mandate extending until 2022, long enough to cover the Brexit negotiations plus a possible transition period into new trading arrangements with the EU.
The Sun, Britain's top-selling newspaper, splashed the headline "Blue Murder" - a reference to the Conservatives' party colour and the prospect of Labour losing dozens of seats.
She said on Tuesday she had "reluctantly" come to the decision to call for an early election because of political division in Westminster, criticising opposition parties for trying to thwart her plans for leaving the EU.
"What do we know that the leader of the Labour Party, the leader of the Liberal Democrats and the leader of the Scottish nationalists have in common?" she asked parliament.
"They want to unite together to divide our country and we will not let them do it."
But for Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, the move was a "huge political miscalculation" that could help the Scottish National Party's efforts to hold an independence vote.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn set the tone for his campaign by criticising May for her "broken promises" on healthcare and education, and jabbed at her for not agreeing to take part in television debates before the election.
May, who has described herself as "not a showy politician", said she would rather talk directly to voters.