South Yorkshire politicians react to surprise snap General Election announcement
Politicians of all colours across South Yorkshire are preparing to go on the campaign trail after Prime Minister Theresa May announced a snap General Election would be held this summer.
Mrs May said the vote, which will take place on June 8, was necessary because of divisions in Westminster as a result of the process of leaving the EU.
MPs will vote on the Prime Minister's proposal tomorrow, with a two-thirds majority needed for the election to take place.
Sheffield Heeley MP Louise Haigh said it was a chance for Labour to send the Conservatives a 'clear message'.
"We’ve seen jobs go; pay fall; schools underfunded; and our NHS lurching from one crisis to another," she said.
“I have fought hard for our city as your MP and I will fight for our community in this election: for a world-class education for our kids; for a fair economy that pays a living wage; and I will fight against the politics of hate and division.
“People in Heeley voted for Brexit because we had been ignored for far too long but Theresa May is not interested in people here and the hard right of the Tory Party want to use this moment to deliver on their political fantasies: slashing workers rights, a race to the bottom and further squeezes on jobs and pay.”
“Only a Labour Government will stand up for our city.”
Fellow Labour MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough Gill Furniss said: “Although today’s announcement is unexpected as Theresa May has for months denied there would be a general election, if the vote tomorrow is successful I absolutely welcome the opportunity to put our Labour policies before the British people.
"While May’s government continues to muddle through the Brexit process, Labour have been putting together proposals that will unite, protect and strengthen the people of Britain."
Mrs Furniss said Labour would respect the vote to leave the EU but would fight for an 'inclusive' deal rather than a 'a divisive hard Brexit that will damage the economy and the lives of ordinary working people'.
She added: “Under this Tory Government, we have a crisis in the NHS, a crisis in social care, and school funding slashed across the country.
"Only Labour will protect the NHS, defend social care services, protect school budgets rather than pursuing divisive grammar schools, restore disabled benefits, and reverse the Tory tax cuts to the richest.
“An alternative is needed. After years of deep austerity cuts and now with the uncertainties of a hard Brexit, the Labour Party is ready with an effective alternative to a Tory government that has failed ordinary working people.”
And Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said: “This is an opportunity for people to have a say on the issues they raise with me – secure and well paid jobs, an NHS that’s there when you need it, fair funding for our schools, proper social care for our elderly and affordable homes for our young people.
"The Tories are letting people down. Our country deserves better. June 8 is a chance for a fresh start.”
Conservative Spencer Pitfield, who has fought and lost three previous elections in Sheffield, said he would stand again if selected.
"The Prime Minister has done the right thing," he said. "We need to get a mandate for the very difficult position the country is facing."
Mr Pitfield, who is director of the Conservative Workers and Trade Unionists group, said the election would be fought over many issues.
"People will vote on schools, trees, the NHS, but also on Remain or Leave," he said.
And Mr Pitfield added: "I would say to voters that time doesn't stand still, life moves on and areas evolve.
"The best for people in South Yorkshire would be to have some blue representation."
Liberal Democrat MP for Sheffield Hallam Nick Clegg has yet to respond, but the party's leader on Sheffield Council Shaffaq Mohammed said: "This election is a huge opportunity for voters in Sheffield to change the direction of our country and prevent a disastrous hard Brexit.
“Sheffield very narrowly voted to leave the EU, but it did not vote for the extreme form of Brexit that Theresa May has imposed on us, which has been backed all the way by Labour.
“For all those who want to protect our local economy by staying in the Single Market and ensure the people have the final say over what comes next, this is your chance.
“The Liberal Democrats are the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government and the only party fighting for a Britain that is open, tolerant and united."
And former Green Party leader Natalie Bennett, who will run in the Sheffield Central constituency, said: "I look forward to the campaign in Sheffield, where I've made my home.
"The Green Party was second in Sheffield Central in 2015. Voters have an opportunity to vote for a party whose values and principles they can really be certain of.
"The Green Party is standing up to Theresa May's hard Brexit.
"We're defending the free movement of people between the UK and Europe to live, work, and study. We're arguing for hard-won protections for workers, the environment, and consumers to be safeguarded.
"And we're calling on the government to guarantee the rights of EU citizens who are already in the UK to stay here - they are part of our communities, and they deserve certainty and security."
"Sheffield is known as a green city. It's a natural place for the first Green Party MP in the north."
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