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From the hustings in 2015: far left, Nick Perry of the LibDems, on his right the Tories' Amber Rudd, and second from left, Labour's Sarah Owen.

From the hustings in 2015: far left, Nick Perry of the LibDems, on his right the Tories’ Amber Rudd, and second from left, Labour’s Sarah Owen.

Local politicians prepare for electoral battle

She said she wouldn’t, then she did. In the end political calculation looks to have won out over sticking to one’s word. Not that that little matter hindered Prime Minister Theresa May from winning a large majority in Parliament this week for a snap general election to be held on 8 June. Nor did her U-turn faze Hastings’ politicians, who are raring for the fight. Nick Terdre reports.

First out of the blocks were the Liberal Democrats, who in fact selected their candidate for Hastings and Rye last September – Nick Perry, who stood for them in 2010 and 2015.

“Amber Rudd should be very worried indeed that Mrs May has called a snap General Election,” he told HOT within minutes of the prime minister’s surprise announcement on Tuesday. “Many local residents have expressed concern to me about an increasing lack of focus on the constituency coupled with a downright refusal to advocate for individuals and families who have EU connections.

“The Liberal Democrats are the only party to have a parliamentary candidate already in place. We are the real opposition to the Hard Brexit Tories in Hastings and Rye.”

Nick Perry.

Nick Perry, the LibDem candidate.

On reports that Mrs May intended to lock all Conservative candidates into supporting a hard Brexit, Mr Perry called on Ms Rudd to stand by her ‘erstwhile principles’ and sign up to an alternative pro-European platform.

“Amber will live to regret a decision to sign up to a Hard Brexit manifesto. It would show our local MP is not willing to stand up for our local economy or the many European citizens living here.

“People here deserve an MP who will stand up for those who want to prevent a disastrous hard Brexit and keep Britain in the single market. The Liberal Democrats are united in saying we will stand up for Britain’s place in Europe and to keep our country open, tolerant and united.”

Anti-austerity message from Labour

“We welcome the Prime Minister’s decision,” said local Labour Party chair Paul Barnett. Voters no longer have to wait until 2020 to send a powerful anti-austerity message about the health and social care service they want, the kind of schools they expect for their children and to demand a Brexit deal which delivers jobs and opportunity for all in Hastings and Rye.

Sarah Owen - Labour's candidate again this time?

Sarah Owen – Labour’s candidate again this time?

“Labour will be offering the country an effective alternative to a government that has failed to rebuild the economy, delivered falling living standards and damaging cuts to local services, including our schools and the NHS.

“The Hastings and Rye Labour Party is also looking forward to getting rid of the Home Secretary who has shown such disregard for the residents of her constituency.”

Labour will have to choose a new candidate, as Sarah Owen, who stood for them in 2015, said last week she would not do so this time.

Strong leadership needed, says Rudd

The Home Secretary and sitting MP is, of course, the Conservative Party’s Amber Rudd. “We need an election on 8 June to secure the strong and stable leadership our country needs,” she told HOT. “It will strengthen our negotiating hand as we seek a deep and special partnership with Europe whilst making our own way in the world.

The Tories' Amber Rudd on the stomp in 2015.

The Tories’ Amber Rudd on the stomp in 2015.

“I was honoured to have been re-elected in 2015. Now I will be standing for a third time in Hastings and Rye to deliver growth and opportunities for our communities. I hope I will be given the opportunity to continue the regeneration and investment in our area which is creating new opportunities throughout the constituency.

“This election will present clear choices. Strong and stable leadership in the national interest with Theresa May and the Conservatives, or weak and unstable coalition government under Jeremy Corbyn. A bright future for Hastings and Rye with regeneration and growth, or a Labour party failing to deliver the investment our towns need.”

Greens reach out to the young

For the time being there is no comment from the local Green Party, which will meet next week to discuss the general election. They also have yet to select a candidate.

However, the Green Party nationally has launched its campaign, which has a clear focus on young people. “Our goal is to close the widening gulf between young people and older generations,” Molly Scott Cato, MEO for South-West England and Gibraltar, said.

“It’s hard to think of a time when it’s been more difficult to be a young person in Britain, and this government’s making it so much worse. It’s pursuing an extreme Brexit that young people didn’t want, it’s dismantling public services that benefited previous generations, and it’s taking away opportunities, security and prosperity.

“Sadly, the only thing that young people can really count is debt, which is simply unforgivable.”

The Green Party would scrap tuition fees and support votes at 16, she said.

HOT was unable to contact the local Ukip representative, who is travelling.

Posted 12:37 Sunday, Apr 23, 2017 In: Politics

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