Leeds MPs get ready to battle as snap General Election is announced

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She was the genial giant killer who toppled the mighty Ed Balls from his throne two years ago.

And today, it was Andrea Jenkyns - sitting Conservative MP for Morley and Outwood - who issued the loudest Brexit-backing battle cry in Leeds as the city’s eight MPs got ready to defend their seats in the snap General Election announced by the Prime Minister.

General Election 2015 Leeds Arena.
Ballot boxes arrive to be counted.
7th May 2015.
Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.

General Election 2015 Leeds Arena. Ballot boxes arrive to be counted. 7th May 2015. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Self-confessed “proud Leaver” Miss Jenkyns will defend the smallest majority in the city - just 422 - when the polls open on June 8, less than a year after the country voted to quit the European Union.

“There are two more years of negotiations until we leave and it is vital we get the right deal for Britain,” she said.

“An election now will strengthen the Prime Minister’s negotiating hand in Europe.

“I therefore welcome today’s decision and I am proud to be a member of parliament for a party that thinks our best days lie ahead. I look forward to hopefully representing the people of Morley and Outwood in the next parliament.”

General Election 2015 Leeds Arena. Parliamentary Elections. New MP for the Leeds East Constituency Labour's Richard Burgon. 7th May 2015. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.

General Election 2015 Leeds Arena. Parliamentary Elections. New MP for the Leeds East Constituency Labour's Richard Burgon. 7th May 2015. Picture Jonathan Gawthorpe.

Leeds has four sitting Labours MPs, three Conservatives and one Lib Dem.

The two tightest Leeds seats are Andrea Jenkyns’s tiny 422-vote margin in Morley and Outwood, and Lib Dem Greg Mulholland’s 2,907 vote majority in Leeds North West.

Mr Mulholland said: “I look forward to standing in Leeds North West for the fourth consecutive time and will be asking local people to put their trust in me once again, to carry on being a strong voice for our area, to campaign for positive change and to hold this divisive Government to account.

“After months of telling the British people there would be no snap election, Theresa May has now done a complete U-turn and has announced she wants to have one! Having told people she wanted stability and wanted to unite the country, she is instead acting cynically in the interests of the Conservative Party, not the country.”

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He added: “This snap election does though give the British people the chance to send a clear message to the Prime Minister and more and more people are looking for a strong opposition to this divisive Government, its failure to properly support the NHS and schools and its obsession with a damaging and divisive hard Brexit.

“With the Labour party divided and fighting internal battles, more and more people are turning to the Liberal Democrats and we are showing in Parliament and in the country that we are becoming that real opposition.”

Mr Mulholland was speaking as party officials revealed there had been a surge in support for the Lib Dems immediately after the election announcement.

Kamran Hussain, Yorkshire and Humber Liberal Democrats Brexit spokesperson, said that within the first hour of the snap election being called, the party had gained 1,000 new members.

“The surge in our membership proves that the Liberal Democrats are seen as the real opposition to this Conservative Brexit Government,” he said.

“People have lost confidence in Labour and are also turning their backs on this Conservative Brexit Government.”

Also coming out fighting today was Leeds East Labour MP and shadow cabinet member Richard Burgon, the city’s other 2015 newcomer, who will be defending a huge majority of more than 12,000.

He said electors in Leeds and elsewhere had been treated “like dirt” by the Government.

“David Cameron said he wouldn’t stand down. He did. Theresa May said she wouldn’t call for a General Election before 2020. She has,” he said.

“Calling for a General Election despite repeatedly saying that she wouldn’t is further evidence of Conservative chaos and this Government’s failure.”

But he urged voters to take the opportunity “to elect a Labour Government that will put the majority of people first”.

“People in East Leeds have been treated like dirt by this Conservative Government,” he said,

“As someone from East Leeds, I was proud when my fellow East Leeds residents elected me - by an increased majority - to represent them and our area for a full five year term in Parliament. I am committed to standing again and continuing to stand up for the people and communities in East Leeds who deserve better than this Conservative Government.”

Leeds Central MP Hilary Benn, who holds the biggest majority in the city’s biggest constituency, said he was “looking forward to taking Labour’s message to the electors of Leeds Central”.

Writing on Twitter and on his website, Mr Benn said “Britain needs a Labour Government to stand up for the many and not just a privileged few.

“As we leave the EU, we need to get the best possible deal for the British people and British businesses. We cannot afford to run the risk of no deal being reached under the Tories.

“We also need a Labour Government to make sure that everyone gets a fair chance.”

SITTING LEEDS MPs AND THEIR MAJORITIES

Leeds West

Rachel Reeves

Labour

First elected: 2010

Majority: 10,727

Leeds East

Richard Burgon

Labour

First elected: 2015

Majority: 12,533

Leeds North East

Fabian Hamilton

Labour

First elected: 1997

Majority: 7,250

Leeds North West

Greg Mulholland

Liberal Democrats

First elected: 2005

Majority: 2,907

Leeds Central

Hilary Benn

Labour

First elected: 1999

Majority: 16,967

Morley and Outwood

Andrea Jenkyns

Conservative

First elected: 2015

Majority: 422

Elmet and Rothwell

Alec Shelbrooke

Conservative

First elected: 2010

Majority: 8,490

Pudsey and Horsforth

Stuart Andrew

Conservative

First elected: 2010

Majority: 4,501

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