doc

A COUNTY MP has defended Theresa May’s u-turn over an early General Election - calling it a “one-off chance” to prepare parliament for Brexit.

Harriett Baldwin insists the Prime Minister did the right thing in calling for the June 8 poll, despite days of mounting flak.

The Tory defence minister, who has one of the largest majorities in the country at over 22,000 in West Worcestershire, says Mrs May had to push the button now to avoid much bigger problems down the line.

It comes amid frantic activity among all of Worcestershire’s political parties to try and get candidates in place for June, with some calling it “shambolic”.

Mrs Baldwin said: “We need an election now to secure a strong and stable leadership to see us through Brexit and beyond.

“This is a one-off chance to hold an election while the EU agrees its negotiating position, and before detailed talks begin.”

The latest Yougov poll has given the Conservatives a stonking 24-point lead over Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour.

If that was spread across the country, Labour would face losing almost 90 MPs, with the Conservatives holding a majority of 192 in parliament compared to just 17 now.

Meanwhile the Worcester News can also reveal how the UK Independence Party is intent on giving itself a “rebrand” in an historic shift away from its anti-EU focus.

Peter Jewell, who is based near Worcester, acts as the UKIP’s deputy treasurer and is currently having talks with the party’s top hierarchy about a new strategy ahead of the General Election.

“We’re about to rebrand UKIP completely, we’ve been working on it for some time in private,” he said.

“If it wasn’t for Nigel Farage, we would never have got Brexit, but to some extent our job is done there.

“We’ve got to come up with other things - I’m looking at justice, for example, because I’ve got views on that, we need to increase magistrates’ powers.”

The shock election announcement means political parties in Worcestershire have had to urgently call branch meetings to discuss candidates.

Some of them typically leave the whole of April clear in order to focus on the local elections, which this year falls on Thursday, May 4 and involves Worcestershire County Council.