UK Prime Minister Theresa May has announced plans to call a snap general election on 8 June.
She said Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership following the EU referendum.
Explaining the decision, Mrs May said: “The country is coming together but Westminster is not.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his party wanted the election, calling it a chance to get a government that puts “the majority first”.
The prime minister will refuse to take part in televised leader debates ahead of the vote, Number 10 sources said.
Mr Corbyn said Mrs May should not be “dodging” a head-to-head encounter, and the Lib Dems urged broadcasters to “empty-chair” the prime minister – hold a debate without her.
Live TV debates took place for the first time in a UK general election in 2010, and the experiment was repeated in 2015 using a range of different formats.
A BBC spokesman said that it was too early to say whether the broadcaster would put in a bid to stage a debate.
There will be a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday to approve the election plan – the prime minister needs two thirds of MPs to vote in favour to bring forward the next scheduled election date of 2020.
Explaining her change of heart on an early election, Mrs May said: “I have concluded the only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead is to hold this election.”
She accused Britain’s other political parties of “game playing”, adding that this risks “our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country”.
“So we need a general election and we need one now. We have at this moment a one-off chance to get this done while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin.