Theresa May has announced plans to call a snap General Election.
The Prime Minister said she would look to hold the vote on Thursday, June 8.
She said Britain needed certainty and strong leadership during Brexit negotiations and challenged political leaders to rise above party politics and back her request.
Justifying the decision, Mrs May said the country was moving closer together on the issue of Brexit but Westminster had not.
She argued the only way to “guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead” was to seek support from the public for her decisions.
She added: “Despite predictions of immediate financial and economic danger, since the referendum we have seen consumer confidence remain high, record numbers of jobs, and economic growth that has exceeded all expectations.
“We have also delivered on the mandate that we were handed by the referendum result.”
Mrs May said she was acting now because of the opposition in Parliament to the Government’s plans for Brexit.
“Our opponents believe because the Government’s majority is so small that our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change. They are wrong.
“They under-estimate our determination to get the job done and I am not prepared to let them endanger the security of millions of working people across the country, because what they are doing jeopardises the work we must do to prepare for Brexit at home and it weakens the Government’s negotiating position in Europe.”
She added: “Britain is leaving the European Union and there can be no turning back. And as we look to the future, the Government has the right plan for negotiating our new relationship with Europe.
“We want a deep and special partnership between a strong and successful European Union and a United Kingdom that is free to chart its own way in the world.
“That means we will regain control of our own money, our own laws and our own borders and we will be free to strike trade deals with old friends and new partners all around the world.
“This is the right approach, and it is in the national interest. But the other political parties oppose it.
“At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division.
“The country is coming together, but Westminster is not.”
However, under current rules set out in the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, Mrs May would need to receive the approval of two-thirds of MPs at Westminster to actually hold the vote.
She confirmed will be a Commons vote on the proposed election on Wednesday.
The news was met with shock at morning trading with the value of the pound plummeting into the red as investors were left to speculate over the content of Mrs May’s announcement.
News of the pending statement sent the pound lower by 0.3% against the US dollar to trade at 1.251, having traded higher by around 0.17% earlier in the morning.
Versus the euro, the pound slumped more than 0.4% to trade at 1.175, losing previous gains of more than 0.1%.