UPDATE: Stewart Jackson seeks fourth term as MP for Peterborough as opposition prepare for election
Stewart Jackson will seek a fourth term as MP for Peterborough after a snap general election was announced.
The Conservative MP confirmed he has already been chosen to stand again in the constituency he has represented since 2005.
He tweeted: “Delighted to have been readopted as Peterborough Conservatives’ Parliamentary candidate in March! Be prepared.....”
Responding to the news that voters will go to the polls on June 8, he added: “The PM is asking for her own mandate from the electorate to deliver the best #Brexit deal for everyone in the UK #GeneralElection2017.”
Peterborough will be a target seat for Labour after Mr Jackson won the May 2015 election by 1,925 votes ahead of Lisa Forbes.
The Tory incumbent responded to his victory with an impassioned victory speech, as he responded to a chorus of boos by calling Labour “three-time losers.”
A week before the election, influential pollster Lord Ashcroft had Labour leading in Peterborough, which only increased the tension on polling night.
The Peterborough Telegraph has contacted incumbent Conservative MP Shailesh Vara to find out if he will be standing in North West Cambridgeshire once again.
The PT has also been contacting the local parties to find out if they have selected their candidates for the election.
Councillor Nick Sandford, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on Peterborough City Council, said interim candidates had been appointed to stand by the party, without a vote among local members, but that he was now waiting to hear whether the candidates will remain in place now that an election has been called.
Cllr Sandford is the interim candidate for North West Cambridgeshire, Beki Sellick is the interim candidate for Peterborough, and Cllr Darren Fower is the interim candidate for North East Cambridgeshire.
Cllr Sandford said: “In an ideal world we would have a full selection procedure and people would have a chance to put themselves forward as candidates.
“It’s a question of whether there’s time for that to happen.”
The Liberal Democrat would not comment on his party’s electoral chances in Peterborough, instead saying that it was for their parliamentary candidate to answer that question.
But he is hoping for a much stronger performance in North West Cambridgeshire compared to 2015 where the party lost 16.2 per cent of its vote share to finish fourth with 5.7 per cent.
He said: “The general election result in 2015 was absolutely awful as far as our party was concerned.
“Since then party membership across the country has increased twice over. We’ve had an increase in Peterborough. Before the general election we had 45 members, and now we have a membership of 150.
“We are the party taking a firm line over Brexit. Whether we want an election or not, it will give people a chance to express their opinion on how the Prime Minister has been handling the Brexit process so far.”
Cllr Mohammed Jamil, group leader of the Labour councillors, said he was waiting for guidance nationally on selecting the local candidates.
He accused the Conservatives of calling an early election rather than “risk” waiting until 2020, a year after the Brexit process is finished, in case the Government gets a bad deal.
He said: “I’m quite looking forward to the election. I think we can do quite well locally.”
Asked if he worries about Labour’s poor showing in the opinion polls, he added: “I do, but we will get people back out on the street and tell residents there’s been five years of cuts.
“If the Labour Party borrowed like the Tory party was cutting, there would be uproar. If you look at austerity, it’s cuts to the Disability Living Allowance, to the Personal Independence Payment and benefits for ordinary people.
“This will be an opportunity for them to tell the Government that they’ve had enough.”
Securing a Labour government will be “challenging,” he admitted, adding: “Whether there will be a majority we will have to see. We will try and get back some of the seats we lost in 2015.
“In Peterborough, we look forward to holding our own and increasing our vote, and hopefully unseating Stewart Jackson.”
Cllr Jamil also said he would consider whether to put himself forward as a candidate.