PARTIES are gearing up in the New Forest and Christchurch for a general election after MPs put the country on course for a national vote on 12th December.
Mental health, affordable housing and social care have been identified as campaign issues by local candidates – as well as Brexit.
All three Conservative MPs from the New Forest and Christchurch voted in favour of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s bill yesterday (Tuesday) to override the Fixed-term Parliaments Act and hold the first general election in December since 1923.
Defending his New Forest East seat is Conservative MP Julian Lewis, who attacked the “Remain-dominated parliament” for refusing to accept the outcome of the referendum – in which the New Forest voted in favour of Brexit by 58% to 42%.
Dr Lewis said: “This general election offers the only way out of parliamentary gridlock – and the only way of ensuring that we leave the EU at last.
“Locally, I shall continue to campaign on Forest and Waterside issues, including mental health facilities and community hospitals, and in support of voluntary bodies which contribute so much to our society.”
One of those taking on Tory Sir Desmond Swayne in New Forest East is Liberal Democrat Jack Davies. He said: “While a confirmatory referendum between Johnson’s deal and remain was my preferred option as to resolving Brexit, my team and I are ready for a general election.
“There is a shocking lack of affordable housing in New Forest West and that is my number one issue locally but we can’t escape Brexit as the issue which is brought up on the doorstep by everybody.
“I’m clear that I want to stop Brexit and get on with tackling the other big issues like climate change and our underfunded public services.”
In Christchurch, the Tories’ likely candidate Sir Chris Chope – who has not yet been publicly confirmed – will be challenged by Labour’s Andy Dunne, the local party’s former chair who resigned in June for personal reasons and over fellow members’ “rudeness and divisiveness”.
Mr Dunne said: “I welcome a general election and the opportunity to show residents and communities in our area that we do not have to put up with Chope anymore, and there is a better alternative locally and nationally for Labour representation which will work for the many, not just the few.
“As for local campaign issues I expect these to centre around the environment, housing and homelessness, and social care. But as I’ve only recently been selected these are not official pledges at this time.”
Candidates to have been publicly confirmed by their parties in New Forest East are: Bob Johnston (Liberal Democrat) and Julian Lewis (Conservative).
New Forest West: Jack Davies (Liberal Democrat), Robin Horne (Brexit Party), Sir Desmond Swayne (Conservative).
Christchurch: Mike Cox (Liberal Democrat) and Andy Dunne (Labour).