Theresa May has shocked the country by going back on months of promises and calling for a general election as Britain heads into one of the most uncertain periods in its recent history.

Just after 11am on Tuesday she said: “I have just chaired a meeting of the Cabinet, where we agreed that the Government should call a general election, to be held on 8 June.”

The Prime Minister stood at the steps of 10 Downing Street and said only an election would ensure both that her opponents cannot derail Brexit and that Britain’s position is strong in talks with the European Union.

The Commons will vote on her plan on Wednesday, but polls already predict a substantial election victory for the Tories and a drubbing for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.

But when she ran for Tory leader in June she said there would be no election until 2020.

Opponents branded the announcement a major U-turn and a political move which showed Ms May putting the interests of her party before the country.

However, Downing Street sources have said that Theresa May decided to call a snap general election because she feared Jeremy Corbyn was on the verge of resigning.

Rather than later risk facing Labour under a new and potentially more popular leader, the Prime Minister decided to call the impromptu vote.

So what could a new election actually mean for leaving the EU? Could an early election stop Brexit?

This would be very unlikely. Labour and the Conservatives, the two largest parties, have both said they would enact the EU referendum result.

Labour has said it wants a different type of Brexit to the Conservatives, so if Labour wins then a “hard Brexit” could be off the table.

Could the election make Theresa May stronger?

There are a number of ways the Prime Minister’s hand could be strengthened by an election – presuming she wins.

By calling an election after she has outlined some of her Brexit vision the PM could claim that the public has backed not only her leadership, but what she’s said about Brexit so far.