Sleaford and North Hykeham MP prepares to defend her seat after Prime Minister calls for early General Election
This morning (Tuesday) the Prime Minister made a statement in Downing Street setting out why she was going back on her previous pledge there would be no election before 2020, as previously fixed.
Sleaford MP Dr Caroline Johnson, who only won a high profile and highly publicised battle for her seat last December, told The Standard this afternoon: “We need this election now to secure the strong leadership that this country needs to see us through the Brexit process, and beyond.
“The division in Westminster caused by the other parties, coupled with the Government’s small majority, risks weakening our hand in our negotiations with Europe.
“This election gives us the opportunity to bring stability and certainty for a full five years. The choice is a stark one – the strong and competent leadership of Theresa May, or the weak and unstable Labour party under Jeremy Corbyn.”
Voters may now get to comment on whether Dr Johnson is delivering on her by-election promises sooner than expected as she will have to return to the campaign trail after just five months in Parliament, decisively winning the seat given up by former Tory MP Stephen Phillips.
She said: “I am looking forward to getting back out on the doorsteps to continue my conversation with local people about what they want to see from Brexit and from a government working in their interests.”
UKIP’s Victoria Ayling, who came second in the by-election has told The Standard that at this stage she does not know whether she will be standing in the constituency again.
Prime Minister Mrs May will now need the backing of two thirds of MPs in the House of Commons tomorrow, Wednesday, to overturn the Fixed Term Parliament Act currently setting the next General Election date.
Mrs May said the lack of “unity” in Westminster over the Brexit process was weakening the Government’s negotiating hand with Brussels and meant an election was required before full talks begin.
Lib Dem leader Tim Farron said: “This election is your chance to change the direction of our country.
“If you want to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit. If you want to keep Britain in the Single Market. If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance.
“Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority.”
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said he welcomed Mrs May’s announcement because it gave “the British people the chance to vote for a government that will put the interests of the majority first”.
“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 our schools and NHS. In the last couple of weeks, Labour has set out policies that offer a clear and credible choice for the country. We look forward to showing how Labour will stand up for the people of Britain.”
* The results of the 2016 by-election for Sleaford and North Hykeham were:
Caroline Johnson, Conservatives - 17,570.
Victoria Ayling, UKIP - 4,426.
Ross Pepper, Liberal Democrats - 3,606.
Jim Clarke, Labour - 3,363.
Marianne Overton, Lincolnshire Independent - 2,892.
Sarah Stock, Independent - 462.
The Iconic Arty-Pole, Monster Raving Loony Party - 200.
Paul Coyne, Independent - 186.