Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire MPs and would be MPs react to snap election announcement
PUBLISHED: 17:10 18 April 2017 | UPDATED: 12:55 27 April 2017
Copyright Archant Norfolk 2016
A snap election will “smoke out the shrill divisive siren voices of British politics”, according to Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman.
Prime minister Theresa May today made the surprise announcement that she had “recently and reluctantly” concluded that a general election was needed.
She said that was “the only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead” amid negotiations over Brexit.
The decision was backed by Conservative Mid Norfolk MP George Freeman, who chairs the prime minister’s policy board.
He signalled his support in a series of tweets. He said: “In these momentous times we need a strong democracy, PM, government, opposition and parliament. TM [Theresa May] spot on to clear her lines in National interest.”
He said the election would give the prime minister “the chance to clear the air and secure a clear mandate” for the Conservative plan for Britain.
And he added: “This election will smoke out the shrill divisive siren voices of British politics: SNP, UKIP who want to break the Union. And Momentum.”
Clive Lewis, Norwich South Labour MP, accused Mrs May, who had previously said she would not call a snap election, of “cynical political opportunism”.
He said: “She’s blaming Labour and she’s blaming the Liberal Democrats. Come on, it’s about her own internal opposition and she’s not doing this in the best interests of the country.
“Who on earth would hold a general election at the start of the most critical talks in the history of this nation’s history?
“She’s playing politics with our futures. The argument that she wants a mandate doesn’t stack up either. If she wanted a mandate, why didn’t she call a general election as soon as she became prime minister without anybody having a vote?
“This is all about the self-serving interests of Theresa May. There’s so much cynical political opportunism about this that it’s hard to know where to begin.” Mr Lewis who has been tipped as a potential future Labour leader, acknowledged that the timing of the snap election had come when his party has been having a hard time at the polls.
But he said: “I understand that there are those who will want to focus on whatever Labour’s problems are. “But this is potentially the most important vote in living history for this country which will have huge implications not just for us, but for voters after that.
“My focus, in Norwich South, is that this is not about the Labour party, but about Europe. I would say to the public not to be fooled. The Conservatives and some of the media might want this to be about Labour, but it’s not.
“It’s clear to me that, if I am the candidate for Norwich South, as I hope to be, that the issues there are Brexit, no doubt about that, but also about the decisions the Conservatives have made on grammar schools, the dismantling of the NHS and on the effects of austerity on social care.”
North Norfolk Liberal Democrat MP, Norman Lamb, said he would stand again for his seat.
He said: “I trusted the prime minister when she said so many times that this [election] would not happen. This is an acutely political act by the Conservatives.
“There is no doubt the Conservatives will win the election, and I would be amazed if you can find anyone who says Jeremy Corbyn can win.
“I think the question now is how do we have an effective opposition which will be critical in holding the Conservatives to
Norwich North Conservative MP Chloe Smith, who has just returned from maternity leave, said she intended to stand again for the seat she first won in 2009.
She said: “This election can provide the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond. Subject to my party’s formal internal procedures.
“I will be standing again to be elected as Norwich North’s MP so I can continue to serve my constituents and get results for Norwich.”
South Norfolk MP Richard Bacon arrived at Westminster as news of Mrs May’s announcement broke.
“I haven’t had a chance to speak to anyone about it but in terms of me personally, I definitely intend to be a candidate,” he said.
Mr Bacon said the election would enable Mrs May to secure her leadership before entering Brexit negotiations.
“It will clear the air and - assuming the Conservative Party wins - it will give the Prime Minister a very clear mandate for the negotiations,” he added.
George Freeman confirmed he would stand again as MP for Mid Norfolk. He tweeted his support for Theresa May saying her decision to announce a snap election showed “real leadership” and “in these momentous times we need a strong democracy: TM spot on to clear her lines in #Nationalinterest”.
The announcement means opposition parties now face a race to get candidates in place ahead of the close of nominations a month before the country goes to the polls.
Jo Rust stood for Labour in North West Norfolk in 2015, coming second to Sir Henry Bellingham, who polled 24,272 votes to her 10,779.
“At the last Labour Party conference, Jeremy Corbyn put us all on notice of a snap general election,” she said.
“I would be honoured if I’m selected to stand again. If selected, Ill do my best to increase the Labour vote.”
In Norwich South, the Liberal Democrats already had their candidate in place - James Wright, who leads the Lib Dem group at Norwich City Council.
He said: “I was surprised that she’s announced it. It’s been one of those things walked about in political circles - will she or won’t she? She’s decided now is the time and we are ready for it.
“I was selected as parliamentary spokesman for Norwich South after the referendum result and that was up until May, so, now it’s happening, I will be the candidate.” The Liberal Democrats have done well in post-Brexit vote by-elections and local elections and Mr Wright said: “The Liberal Democrat message on Europe is clear. We are very firm that there should be a vote on the final decision and that’s what we are going to go into this election talking about.”
People in Norfolk are already due to go to the polls next month for the county council elections on May 4 and Richard Bearman, the Green Party’s parliamentary spokesman for Norwich South said: “It could cause confusion among voters, having this so close to the county council elections, but personally, I am looking forward to the challenge of debating with Clive Lewis and the other candidates in the run-up to June 8.”
MEP Vicky Ford, Conservative MEP for the Eastern region backed the snap election call and said a successful Tory result would strengthen the prime ministers’ hand in Brexit negotiations.
She said: “In the past month I have been knocking on doors and talking to people in Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Suffolk with our Conservative candidates for county council elections.
“I have been in areas that have previously seen a strong vote for Labour, Liberal Democrats and UKIP.
“On the doorsteps there is massive support from voters for Theresa May. A General Election result with a significant majority will allow her to lead with increased certainty.
“This will strengthen her negotiation position in the important discussions ahead and deliver the best outcomes for the UK.”
West Suffolk Conservative MP Matt Hancock said: “I look forward to the general election on 8 June. Britain needs strong leadership, and this election will give people the chance to vote for that leadership, to strengthen our negotiating hand in Europe, and give the certainty the country needs.
“Locally I am proud to stand on my record of more jobs, more investment, and as a strong voice for local people. It is an honour to represent West Suffolk in Parliament, and I hope I can persuade people to vote Conservative so I can continue doing this job which I love, and represent the people of West Suffolk.“
Waveney Conservative MP Peter Aldous said that Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement had “caught everyone by surprise.”
Confirming that he intends to stand once again, Mr Aldous said: “It was not something I had any advance knowledge of – and I think its caught everyone by surprise. When you look at the background, things have changed an awful lot since the 2015 General Election. A great deal has changed nationally, with Brexit, and internationally with the security threats.”
Mr Aldous added he fully understood and supported the decision, and he also felt that it was important that the Prime Minister had the backing of the British people as she started the negotiations over Brexit.
He said: “A year or so ago when she became Prime Minister, the situation was different as we did not know what would happen. But now there is a plan and we are at the start of the formal withdrawal talks so now is the right time to go to the country to seek a new mandate.”
With Waveney held by Labour before the 2010 general election, and a key marginal seat in the 2015 election, the Waveney Labour Group have yet to announce a new candidate for the June 8 election. In 2015 former Labour MP Bob Blizzard – who held the seat from 1997 to 2020 – announced he would not be standing again after losing for a second time to Mr Aldous.
Steve Barclay, Conservative MP for North East Cambridgeshire, said: “This general election is a clear choice between the strong leadership of Theresa May and a weak coalition under Jeremy Corbyn.
“It is clear that the government’s small majority is insufficient to deliver the necessary changes to make Brexit a success, because the opposition parties are not acting in the national interest and are intent on causing uncertainty.
“We therefore need a fresh mandate to continue to build a strong economy whilst also negotiating the right approach with our EU partners.”
Lucy Nethsingha was the Lib Dem candidate in 2015 in North East Cambridgeshire and is switching her attention to South East Cambridgeshire this time.
She said: “I am delighted that Theresa May has called a general election, as it will give the opportunity for people to vote on her government’s record.
“So far she has pushed for a damaging hard Brexit which no-one voted for, and has starved our schools and hospitals of money.
“This winter is the worst the NHS has seen, with record numbers of people stuck in hospital because of lack of social care.
“This government is leading the country in the wrong direction, and we need to send a message to the Conservatives that they can’t take people for granted.”
Great Yarmouth MP Brandon Lewis has confirmed he will once again represent the Conservative party in his constituency.
He said: “I welcome the news that the Prime Minister has called for a General Election to be held on 8th June, and will be voting with my colleagues in the House this week to take the necessary steps in Parliament to ensure that this can happen.
“I have spoken to my local Association to notify them of my intention to stand again as the Conservative candidate in Great Yarmouth, and I look forward to campaigning hard between now and June and hope to be re-elected as Great Yarmouth’s MP in the election. It has been an honour to serve the constituents of Great Yarmouth since my election in 2010, and I look forward to speaking to as many residents as possible ahead of polling day to highlight what we have achieved over the last 7 years, and set out what I will be campaigning for if I am re-elected.
“This election is necessary to provide the strong leadership the country needs to deliver Brexit, and every vote for the Conservatives will make our position stronger in the upcoming negotiations. The Prime Minister has set out her Plan for a Stronger Britain, and the choice is clear between strong leadership in the national interest with Theresa May and the Conservatives, and a weak and unstable coalition led by Jeremy Corbyn.”
Travor Wainwright, a Labour councillor in Great Yarmouth said: “Great Yarmouth desperately needs a Labour Government and a Labour MP, to build a fairer society for all residents. The Austerity measures put in place over the last seven years by this Conservative Government have quite clearly failed the majority of people In Great Yarmouth. Our Public Services, including Education and the NHS are being slowly destroyed in favour of the private sector. On June 8 we now have the opportunity to reverse this, and once again build a country in which we can all feel proud.”