MPs backed the Prime Minister’s proposal to call an early general election in a convincing vote in the House of Commons yesterday (Wednesday 20 April).
And already the political parties in Brighton and Hove are preparing to pick their candidates as quickly as proper processes allow.
There are, though, signs that the choice will be taken out of the hands of local Labour and Conservative parties.
The three sitting MPs will stand again – Simon Kirby for the Conservatives in Brighton Kemptown, Caroline Lucas for the Greens in Brighton Pavilion and Peter Kyle for Labour in Hove.
There may be formal adoption or ratification processes to go through but they will not face a challenge from within their respective parties.
Two Brighton Labour councillors are putting themselves forward for the fight in Brighton Kemptown – constituency party secretary Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who represents East Brighton on Brighton and Hove City Council, and Dan Yates, who represents Moulsecoomb and Bevendean.
The party’s candidate for the seat at the 2015 general election, Nancy Platts, ruled herself out of the running yesterday. She came second by 690 votes last time, having narrowly been defeated by Caroline Lucas in Brighton Pavilion in 2010.
Count me in! I’m going to put my name forward as a potential Labour candidate for Brighton Kemptown. 1/2
— Daniel Yates (@danieljyates) April 19, 2017
Councillor Yates ran against Tim Loughton in East Worthing and Shoreham at both the 2001 and 2005 general elections and recorded Labour’s best performance there.
Councillor Russell-Moyle stood in Lewes at the 2015 general election, finishing fourth. It was realistically a contest between the sitting Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker and former Brighton Conservative councillor Maria Caulfield, who unseated him. She is standing again.
Councillor Russell-Moyle said: “I had wanted to support Nancy and thought she would be a fantastic candidate. But I’m up for the fight whoever the candidate is.
“We will choose a candidate swiftly and I will be thinking closely about what is best for the people of East Brighton, Kemptown as a whole and the country.”
Latest TV broadcaster Sophie Cook is also keen to be selected as the Labour candidate after becoming Britain’s first trans television presenter.
The Lib Dems picked candidates in the autumn in anticipation of a snap election. In Brighton Kemptown, the party is expected to confirm within days that Emily Tester will stand. She is a former student at Brighton, Hove and Sussex VI Form College (BHASVIC), currently serving as a town councillor in Littlehampton.
In Hove the Conservatives are expected to move as quickly as possible to find the right person to take on Peter Kyle, who won the seat against the political tide in May 2015.
Names in the frame include Kristy Adams, who was beaten to the selection by Graham Cox two years ago, and Clarence Mitchell, who increased the Conservative vote in Brighton Pavilion against the odds, closing the gap on Labour from 2010. With the Lib Dem vote seeming to switch to Caroline Lucas, though, Britain’s first Green MP was able to increase her majority.
Hove councillor Robert Nemeth’s name has been mentioned. He said: “I’ll be heavily involved in the campaign for Hove whoever is selected and really can’t wait to get started.”
The UKIP candidate in 2015, Kevin Smith, has ruled out standing again.
The Lib Dem candidate is likely to be Carrie Hynds. Again, her selection is likely to be confirmed within days, along with that of Paul Chandler in Brighton Pavilion. Mr Chandler stood in Kemptown in 2015.
There has been talk of a progressive alliance, with Carline Lucas broaching the subject yesterday. It would mean one or more parties of the left not putting up a candidate to improve the chances of beating the Conservatives. The obstacles to agreement may prove too great this time round.
Labour and the Tories face a challenge in finding candidates of the right calibre to take on Caroline Lucas in Pavilion although there has been speculation that Sussex University politics student Solomon Curtis would like to stand for Labour. He won an increased share of the vote in safe Tory Wealden at the 2015 general election when he was just 18 years old.
The parties will be mindful of the end of term at both Sussex and Brighton University. Summer term ends on Friday 9 June – the day after the election – with end-of-year assessments for many scheduled until that date. Those whose assessments are over may head home before polling day which could affect the Green vote although the party is at pains to point out that its electoral base runs wider.
After yesterday’s vote in the House of Commons to support an election on Thursday 8 June, it became clear that the last sitting day is likely to be Tuesday 2 May. Parliament would then be formally dissolved on Wednesday 3 May. It could yet happen sooner.
The deadline for nominations is at 4pm on Thursday 11 May and the deadline for voters to register is on Monday 22 May.
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