A snap general election in June has been billed by some of Newbury’s politicians as an opportunity for residents to approve or contest Brexit.
Prime Minister Theresa May made the surprise announcement this morning that an election would be held on June 8 – seven weeks from Thursday.
It is due to be confirmed in the House of Commons tomorrow but all the major parties had indicated they are in support.
Brexit is certain to feature prominently in the campaigning over the next two months, following last year’s referendum in which the UK voted to leave the European Union.
So far three candidates have been confirmed as standing for the Newbury seat: current MP Richard Benyon for the Conservatives, Judith Bunting for the Liberal Democrats, and Paul Field for the Green Party.
Mr Benyon said: “I’m surprised, but I entirely understand the Prime Minister’s wish to have a mandate for the next stage of leaving the European Union and for other policies.
“I’ve always said it was going to be difficult for her with such a small majority, so it’s understandable to secure her own mandate.”
Mrs Bunting said: “This is the best thing that could possibly happen. We need to make sure that leave voters who were fed lies have an opportunity to vote properly on what is going on.
“Although Richard Benyon campaigned hard for remain during the referendum, it’s been very disappointing to see him tow the hard Brexit line that the Government is pushing, so people will have an opportunity to let their views be heard.”
Mr Field said: “Fundamentally this is going to be a one-issue election. This is what Theresa May has set out and this is the choice for people in Newbury and across the country to decide what direction they want to go.
“I genuinely believe that many people voted for a different type of Brexit that is currently offered by this Government, so there’s a real opportunity here.”
Labour and Ukip have so far not announced a candidate for the Newbury seat, but both are hopeful of getting someone in place in the coming week.
Gary Puffett, chairman of Newbury Labour, said: “I welcome that Theresa May is calling the election. It’s an opportunity for people to have their say.
“I guess people could view that this is about Brexit as there has been turmoil experienced since the referendum, but you wouldn’t want to reduce it down to just that.”
Roy Tubb, chairman of Ukip Newbury, said: “I was not expecting an election, I don’t think anyone was, and listening to Theresa May it seems she wants to remove the uncertainty.
“I think it’s the aggravation caused by the anti-Brexiteers. They keep saying they’re trying to make sure it’s the best deal, but I think she feels they’re trying to delay the whole process or even stop it.”