Hyndburn leaders have expressed shock after Prime Minister Theresa May announced a snap general election in June.
Despite the last general election taking place two years ago, Britain is set to go to the polls again in seven weeks’ time on June 8, just weeks after next month’s county council elections and less than 12 months after the country voted to leave the European Union at a referendum.
There will be a vote in the House of Commons on Wednesday to approve the election plan, in which two-thirds of MPs must vote in favour to bring forward the election from the scheduled date of 2020.
Hyndburn MP Graham Jones admitted the announcement of a poll was “very much a surprise”.
He said: “Theresa May has repeatedly said that there would be no general election. I think May saw that she was ahead in the polls and saw an opportunity to call an election.
“But the Labour Party has always been ready for an election. There is no doubt we are a long way behind nationally; the Conservatives are a strong and credible opponent.
“But I am excited to fight another election. We have a strong campaign ready for seven weeks’ time and I’m looking forward to it.”
Mrs May has previously insisted there would be no early election, but in a statement on Tuesday she said an early election is “the only way to guarantee certainty and security for the years ahead.”
Hyndburn council Leader Miles Parkinson said the main fight for the Hyndburn Labour group would be to support sitting MP Mr Jones.
He added: “Graham has made his views quite clear on the leadership and what needs to happen but it’s about the policies of the party and the party needs to move forward.
“It will be difficult but it’s an opportune time. We have been out for the last 12 weeks campaigning for the local elections. Usually the general election is a longer process. This is a short-time scale and we have to make sure we speak to the residents because otherwise people just see what’s the TV narrative.”
Hyndburn’s Conservative group leader Coun Tony Dobson said: “We have all been surprised and shocked by the Prime Minister’s decision to go to the polls. She has given her reasons for the decision and as a party we are prepared to fight a good campaign.
“We need to give the electorate a good reason to vote Conservative.
“But we can’t take the polls for granted. Although the Conservatives are up 21 percent nationally, I don’t think this is reflected in Hyndburn. We have to fight and persuade people that our vision and aspirations are right for Hyndburn.”
In a statement, Mrs May said that Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership following the vote to leave the EU.
She added: “The country is coming together but Westminster is not.”