Sussex politicians prepare for General Election

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Voters are to go to the polls following the announcement of a snap general election.

Announced by Prime Minister Theresa May on Tuesday (April 18) and confirmed in a parliamentary vote the following day, the poll is set to take place on June 8.

East Sussex branches reacted quickly to the surprise announcement, starting to put together plans whilst continuing campaigns for the upcoming East Sussex County Council elections on May 4.

Current Lewes MP Maria Caulfield confirmed she will be seeking re-election for a second term. Speaking on Thursday (April 20) she said: “During the two years I have been the MP for Lewes I have worked hard to tackle some of the major local issues that have been neglected for many years.

“From stopping health services being moved from Eastbourne Hospital to the Conquest in Hastings to tackling the issue of the A27 and starting the process of having it duelled. I have also been successfully campaigning for the funding to re-open the Lewes to Uckfield line and the regeneration of Newhaven town which only a few days ago became an enterprise zone, enabling businesses to easily move to the town.

“Only yesterday I was campaigning for local schools in Parliament and successfully asking the Prime Minister to re look at the funding they are likely to receive. If re-elected I will continue to work hard and standing up for the local area and be a strong voice for Lewes.”

Formerly held by Liberal Democrat Norman Baker the seat was won by Ms Caulfield in 2015. With a majority of just 1,083 votes, the seat is likely to be a key target for both parties.

The Lib Dems began their campaign for the seat last year by appointing Kelly-Marie Blundell as their prospective parliamentary candidate. Her appointment in September 2016 followed Mr Baker’s decision to stand down from frontline politics.

Ms Blundell said: “​​This election is a real opportunity to change the direction of our country and provide the people with a government that represents 100 per cent of the people, not just the Leave voters. With just 1,000 votes between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives in Lewes, this is a real chance to elect a local, dedicated MP who supports the Remain vote.

“I am standing up for an open, tolerant and united Lewes, Newhaven, Seaford and Polegate. And a united Britain as we face enormous constitutional change.”

As the Sussex Express went to press no other candidates have been confirmed for the Lewes seat although both Labour and the Green Party say they plan to announce their candidates in the near future.

A spokesman for the Lewes Green Party said: “The people of the Lewes constituency now have two opportunities to vote for a bold positive vision of this country’s future.

“The first one is to vote Green in the County Council elections on May 4. The second will be a chance to vote for an MP whose values reflect those of the progressive, pro-European majority in this area.”

Soon after Mrs May’s speech, Wealden MP Nus Ghani also confirmed she will be seeking re-election for a second term.

Speaking on Tuesday (April 18), Ms Ghani said: “It has been the privilege of a lifetime to represent the people of Wealden during the two years since I was elected in 2015.

“This morning the Prime Minister announced that we will be having a general election in June. The country needs strong and secure leadership, and it needs a government with a clear mandate to deliver economic success and domestic reform and to take advantage of all the opportunities Brexit has to offer. The Conservatives, under Theresa May, are best placed to do that.

“I will be seeking a new mandate as Wealden’s MP. If I am lucky enough to be re-elected, I pledge to continue serving the constituents of Wealden to the best of my ability.”

The Liberal Democrats were the first to confirm they will be challenging the seat putting forward Chris Bowers as its preferred candidate.

A writer and broadcaster, Mr Bowers said: “This has more to do with Theresa May trying to snuff out opposition to her vision of a hard Brexit than it does with democracy.

“We accept the referendum result, but the margin of 52 to 48 makes it clear there’s no mandate for a hard Brexit. We have been fighting for Britain to remain in the European single market, and for employment, social and environmental safeguards in EU legislation to be guaranteed in British law post-Brexit.

“The prime minister is trying, cynically, to cash in on Labour’s internal struggles to give her a majority that allows her to do what she wants.”