Tory hopeful is relishing election campaign after maternity leave

Home Secretary Amber Rudd in Norwich visiting Conservative candidates Chloe Smith and Lana Hempsall.

Home Secretary Amber Rudd in Norwich visiting Conservative candidates Chloe Smith and Lana Hempsall. Picture : ANTONY KELLY - Credit: copyright ARCHANT 2017

On the morning of April 18 MP and new mum Chloe Smith was enjoying her first day back in Westminster after maternity leave.

Then the prime minister called a snap election.

'My first thought, honestly, was 'what a great way back in. I can get on the doorsteps',' Ms Smith, who is standing again in Norwich North, explained.

'The very best thing about being an MP is meeting people, hearing their concerns and finding a way to address them. That is what campaigning is all about.'

Ms Smith will celebrate her 35th birthday during the campaign – and yet even at this tender age she is an election veteran.

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'This is my third general election – I was elected at a by-election. So that's four campaigns,' she said. 'Of course the added strain of having a baby is difficult but I am absolutely committed to getting out there and knocking on doors.'

And baby Alastair, now seven months old, is already familiar with politics having joined mum in the House of Commons so she could vote in favour of triggering the Brexit process.

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'It was a very proud moment,' she said. 'It will provide a talking point for Alastair. Of course, I was never fully removed from what is going on and I felt it was important for me to take part in that vote – and it was lovely that the baby got to come along.'

Ms Smith is locked in a battle with Labour candidate Christopher Nicholas Jones who is bidding to overturn a 4,463 majority. Labour is expected to mount a significant push in Norwich in the coming weeks.

But Ms Smith says she hopes her record will be enough: 'It will be tough – of course.

'I always say there are three great things about being an MP: Shaping Britain's future, championing local causes and being an ambassador for politics.

'We have a great democratic tradition and being involved in another election – even if it is my fourth in eight years – proves that.'

The other candidates in Norwich North are: Adrian Holmes, Green, and Liam Matthews, The Pirate Party.

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