THERESA May's decision to call for a General Election in June was reached "reluctantly", Vale MP Alun Cairns has said.

Mr Cairns, who sits in Mrs May's cabinet as Welsh secretary, was speaking after the prime minister announced on Tuesday, April 18, she would call for an election to be held on Thursday, June 8.

The decision was signed off by MPs following a debate, with only 13 voting against the plan.

Conservative Mr Cairns said: “We need a General Election now to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.

"My colleague the Prime Minister has taken this decision reluctantly as a result of the opposition parties’ divisive attempts to re-open the referendum issue.

"In recent weeks, Labour have threatened to vote against the final agreement we reach with the European Union.

"The Liberal Democrats have said they want to 'grind' the business of government 'to a standstill'. This is not the time for division and political game playing, this is a time for unity."

Mr Cairns added a vote for the Conservatives would be a vote to strengthen Britain’s hand in the ongoing Brexit negotiations, which began at the end of March.

“As Conservatives we have a plan for a stronger Britain and will take the right long-term decisions for a more secure future," he said.

"This plan is designed to secure a stronger economy, real opportunity for all and a more secure and united nation.

“The choice at this election is clear.

"It is between strong and stable leadership in the national interest with Theresa May and the Conservatives, or weak and unstable coalition government led by Jeremy Corbyn."

Vale-based South Wales Central AM and leader of the Welsh Conservatives Andrew RT Davies also welcomed the announcement, saying: “It is the right decision for the country.”

“We want both Wales and Britain to emerge from this period stronger, fairer and more outward-looking than ever before, and we will stick to our plan for a stronger Britain.

“Only Theresa May has the plan and the proven leadership to deliver the right deal for Britain abroad and a better deal for ordinary, working people here at home.”

And a spokesman for First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “We won last year’s Assembly election based on our strong record of leadership and delivery.

“We will enter the General Election campaign, whenever it comes, from a position of strength and with a distinctive and innovative offer for the people of Wales.”

Parliament will be dissolved on Wednesday, May 3.

The next General Election had been scheduled for May 2020.