UPDATE - West Norfolk MPs confirm intention to seek re-election
West Norfolk’s current MPs have today confirmed their intention to stand again at the forthcoming general election.
Under Conservative rules, sitting MPs must be formally re-selected in order to stand on June 8.
But, today, Sir Henry Bellingham and Elizabeth Truss announced they would be putting themselves forward when local activists meet next week to choose their candidates.
Earlier this week, Sir Henry defended prime minister Theresa May’s decision to seek an early election, insisting Britain’s position in Brexit negotiations would be weaker without it.
He said: “Given that she took over from a prime minister who resigned a year after the start of the Parliament, she is entitled to seek her own mandate.
“Whilst I am personally convinced we can make a great success of Brexit, and whilst I am convinced it will be to the advantage of this constituency, it is imperative that we have a strong Prime Minister in place with her own mandate.”
A motion to seek an early election was overwhelmingly passed on Wednesday.
Mrs May had said the move was necessary because of what she described as “political game-playing” by parties and peers who oppose Britain’s exit from the European Union.
But West Norfolk Liberal Democrat chairman Simon Wilson claimed Mrs May was playing games to capitalise on her party’s substantial opinion poll lead over Labour.
He said: “I think it’s about the interests of the Conservative Party rather than the country.”
Questions have also been raised about the timing of the poll, amid claims as many as 30 people could face charges as part of a continuing investigation into Conservative campaign expenses from the 2015 election. The party has dismissed claims of any connection.
North West Norfolk Labour secretary Jo Rust insisted the election was an opportunity for her party, despite its low poll ratings.
She said: “We’ve got a Government that is intent on imposing cuts on people that have done nothing to deserve it. We see crisis in our NHS.
“A lot of people are unhappy and have been buoyed by the policy messages coming out of the Labour party.”
Michael de Whalley, of the Green Party, said he feared Britain could be left more divided and worse off.
He said: “I’m concerned Britain could find itself in an economic and environmental slow lane if we’re not careful.”
But Ms Truss said: ‘It is right to have an election now to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.”