The MP for Helston and the Lizard has admitted he cannot be confident of winning the surprise general election called by the Prime Minister yesterday but will “relish the opportunity.”
Derek Thomas intimated that his West Cornwall constituency seat, which he has held for just two years, was by no means safe when the country goes to the polls on June 8. Former seat-holder of 18 years, Andrew George, has already confirmed he will be standing again in opposition.
Speaking to the Helston Packet, Mr Thomas said: “There’s no way I can be confident of winning it so soon after taking it from someone who is very busy and very much appreciated.”
However, he added: “Personally I absolutely relish the opportunity. I will put in every effort to set out what I’ve been doing for the area and what I want for the area.”
Mr Thomas has been accompanying some of the Conservative candidates out on the campaign trail for the Cornwall Council election on May 4 and said he had “thoroughly enjoyed it. I am glad to have the opportunity to do that and see if people have appreciated the work I’ve done so far,” he said.
Mr Thomas also said he was “disappointed in a sense” that the election had been called now by Theresa May, as the five-year programme set out by the Conservatives at the last general election in 2015 would now not be fully implemented.
“I believe in the fixed term parliament, because I think it gives time to properly deliver the government manifesto,” he said. However, Mr Thomas added: “Being so early in the Brexit process it gives whoever forms the next government the chance to have the whole time to get the best deal for sole Britain, for fishing, farming and tourism.”
Mr Thomas won the West Cornwall seat from Liberal Democrat Mr George in 2015 with a majority of just 2,469 votes, after missing out in 2010 by an even narrower margin of 1,719 votes.
Mr George confirmed to the Packet that he would once again be standing as the Liberal Democrat prospective parliamentary candidate, saying: “I have been asked to do it. Although life and work outside Westminster is enjoyable and productive, I feel that there’s a need to do what I can as well. My arm has been twisted and I’ll give it my best and see where it goes.
“I think that people have had two years to think about the last result and how it went and can reflect carefully on that before they vote again.”
However, Mr George said he was “not going to just walk way” from his existing commitments, including as director of the Cornwall Community Land Trust, and would have to fit campaigning around his schedule for the time being, due to the snap nature of the election.
Mr George also said he was surprised Mrs May had not called a general election before now, adding: “I had predicted that she would and it was certainly in her advantage, given the parlous state of the imploding Labour Party.”
The election date falls on the first day of this year’s Royal Cornwall Show, but a spokesman has confirmed that it would go ahead as planned - despite the showground normally being used as a polling station and often for the count as well.
However, the show spokesman told the Packet: “Where else they will go I don’t know, unfortunately that’s a decision Cornwall Council will have to make.”
The last time a General Election coincided with the show was in 1983, when attendance figures were actually up on the previous year.