On Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Theresa May jolted us all out of our post-bank holiday drowsiness with the announcement that she would be, um, making an announcement.
The internet quickly exploded in a frenzy of speculation as to what news May could be planning on breaking. Unscheduled speeches are relatively rare in politics, particularly by heads of state; even more unusual was the fact that nobody seemed to know why May had asked the press to assemble outside 10 Downing Street. Would the prime minister be resigning? Granting direct rule to Northern Ireland? Announcing British airstrikes on Syria? Stating the UK’s support for Donald Trump in his crusade against North Korea?
In the end, the answer was more predictable than any of those options – but it still sent shockwaves around the UK. May confirmed that a snap general election will be held on 8 June 2017, telling journalists that the surprise step “is necessary to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond”.
May had previously claimed on several occasions that she would not hold a general election until 2020. However, she said on Tuesday that opposition to Brexit by Labour, Liberal Democrat and Scottish National Party MPs – which she called “political game-playing” – means she felt she had no choice.
On Twitter, people – and political parties – were quick to respond to news of the imminent election with all the emotions under the sun – from let’s-do-this enthusiasm to oh-god-do-we-really-have-to political exhaustion.
Here, we’ve rounded up some of the best reactions Twitter had to offer.
Unsurprisingly, leading politicians and parties were quick to say they were ready for whatever an election has in store for them.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who was found to be trailing Theresa May by 37 points in the latest YouGov poll, said that he “welcomed” the prime minister’s announcement, adding: “Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to our school and NHS.”
Tim Farron, the anti-Brexit leader of former Tory coalition partners the Lib Dems, urged people to vote Liberal Democrat if they “want to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit”. Farron’s party said it had gained 1,500 new members in the first hour since May announced the 8 June poll.
Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish First Minister and leader of the SNP, argued that SNP-majority Scotland had clearly rejected both Conservative and Labour rule…
… While Caroline Lucas, co-leader of the Green Party of England and Wales, struck a positive note.
Many Twitter users were quick to compare Theresa May to other famous women.
Several people pointed out that the prime minister had, you know, repeatedly promised that she wouldn’t do this.
Others utilised the power of Peep Show to sum up their feelings about the current state of UK politics.
Many people were busy imagining how the Conservatives’ political rivals might be feeling in the wake of May’s announcement.
One eagle-eyed Twitter user noticed the suspicious timing of the election date: right around the time Donald Trump was supposed to be coming to the UK on his controversial state visit.
On Twitter, many users’ overwhelming mood was one of pure and simple exhaustion.
After the Scottish independence referendum of 2014, the 2015 general election and the Brexit referendum, the upcoming general election this summer will be the fourth major poll to shake up the UK in three years – and that’s not even counting local council elections.
But remember: even if the world of politics doesn’t feel like somewhere you want to be right now, you have a voice. Use it.
And as The Great British Bake Off’s Dr Tamal Ray points out, even if this all goes horribly wrong, we might get something good out of it… Eventually.
Main image: iStock/Twitter