Tom Brake claimed the PM’s announcement on Tuesday was a result of realising the Government’s EU exit plan was flawed rather than Mrs May’s attempt to silence bitter Remainers trying to halt Brexit.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “I’m afraid that’s a smokescreen. She’s the person who has chosen to go for the ‘hard’ Brexit.
“She’s the person I suspect who’s now picking up signs in the UK economy, with things like inflation, employers saying they’re going to relocate jobs, European medicine agency for instance.
“She has seen that the UK economy is about to go into a very bad period which will probably last until 2019.
Theresa May was accused of using the general election as a Brexit smokescreen
“So she has chosen to call a snap general election to try and stabilise her position and give herself five years in which to navigate these very choppy waters that she has created.”
The Lib Dem MP, whose party has vowed to battle against the UK leaving the single market, also claimed the Conservative Party viewed them as a threat to their seats in the south-west.
Despite refusing to be drawn on the number of seats Tim Farron’s party hopes to reclaim, he said: “We know from the Conservative’s own polling that they’re worried for instance about seats in the south-west, seats in south-west London which we previously held.
“Those are areas where we are strong and of course we’d anticipated a snap general election back in the autumn, so we are ready.”
I’m afraid that’s a smokescreen
The astonishing claims come as Mrs May this morning lashed out against bitter Europhiles for trying to scupper Brexit in her speech.
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Mrs May 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 June 8.
"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.
"In recent weeks Labour has threatened to vote against the deal we reach with the European Union. The Liberal Democrats have said they want to grind the business of government to a standsill.
Live from 10 Downing Street: Theresa May calls snap general election Tue, April 18, 2017
Theresa May has made the announcement to call for an early general election to be held on June 8 2017
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Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to the media outside 10 Downing Street, in central London
"The Scottish National Party say they will vote against the legislation that formally repeals Britain's membership of the European Union. And unelected members of the House of Lords have vowed to fight us every step of the way.”
Mrs May also said the Government’s resolve to make Brexit a success remained strong and said she would not allow Remainers to halt the exit from the European Union.
She said: “Our opponents believe that because the Government's majority is so small, our resolve will weaken and that they can force us to change course. They are wrong.
"They underestimate 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.
"If we do not hold a general election now their political game-playing will continue, and the negotiations with the European Union will reach their most difficult stage in the run-up to the next scheduled election.
"Division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit and it will cause damaging uncertainty and instability to the country.”