Parties prepare for General Election campaign in Hexham

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LOCAL parties this week began drawing up battle plans for the Hexham constituency following the Prime Minister’s surprise decision to call an early General Election.

Theresa May said she wanted a fresh mandate on June 8 to strengthen her hand in Brexit talks and provide certainty for the future.

Sitting MP Guy Opperman confirmed he would be putting himself forward for re-election, and would be seeking selection by the constituency Conservative Party.

“This election will be a choice of leadership for the country,” he said.

“There is the choice of strong stable leadership under Theresa May or the unstable chaos of Jeremy Corbyn.”

Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act, the Prime Minister required the support of two-thirds of MPs to call an early election, and the vote was approved in the Commons on Wednesday by a margin of 522 votes to 13.

Mr Opperman added: “We need this election now to secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond. Fundamentally, every vote cast for Theresa May and the Conservatives will count to strengthen Britain’s hand in the Brexit negotiations.”

The Liberal Democrats are the only party so far to foramlly announce a candidate for Hexham, in the shape of former North-East MEP and former leader of the Liberal Democrat MEPs, Fiona Hall.

Mrs Hall, who lives in Rothbury, said: “Support for the Remain campaign is huge and there is a lot of anxiety about what is now happening, with the Government pressing ahead with a ‘hard Brexit’.

“There would be barriers to our exports and trading, and huge implications in terms of jobs and research at our universities.

“What I would say to the people of Hexham is that however you normally vote, lend me your vote for this occasion.

“Only the Liberal Democrats have a clear message about being opposed to a hard Brexit.”

The Hexham constituency Labour Party said it would organise a special meeting to select its candidate. And local branches of the Green Party and UKIP said meetings were scheduled to take place within the next few days to discuss their strategies.

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