General elections: East Devon Conservative MP's closest challenger set to stand again

PUBLISHED: 09:38 05 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:21 05 September 2019

Claire Wright is ready to stand in 2019 General Elections. Picture: Claire Wright

Claire Wright is ready to stand in 2019 General Elections. Picture: Claire Wright

Archant

Prospective Independent parliamentary candidate Claire Wright said she is ready for a general election, but it could be her last shot at the seat.

At the 2017 elections the Devon County Councillor secured 21,270 votes in the East Devon constituency - the highest number of votes of any Independent candidate in the UK.

MP Hugo Swire won his seat with 29,306 votes, 8,036 more than Cllr Wright, who has campaigned for a second referendum and wants to remain in the EU.

Speaking to the Herald, Cllr Wright said she thought a general election was 'inevitable' and believed Sir Swire would face a challenge like he has never seen before this time around.

She added: "I am ready. My campaign team and I got together a year ago and we have been planning ever since.

"I think Boris Johnson has been planning a general election since he took up office. He doesn't have enough Tory MPs, as of today (Wednesday, September 4). He is down by 43.

"We are expecting a general election to be called in the next one to three weeks.

"Everybody is on standby and I am looking forward to the challenge of the general elections, which are exhausting but the most exhilarating thing you can imagine."

In 2017, Labour won 6,857 votes and the Liberal Democrats won 1,468 - votes which combined with Cllr Wright's would have topped the poll. But Cllr Wright said she will not call on the opposition parties not to field a candidate to clear the way for her as the 'remain' candidate.

Cllr Wright added: "I get asked this every time and I do not think it is my place to tell another party to stand down.

"I always say, if you want them to stand down then it needs to come from other members of the party and not me."

The Brexit Party has confirmed Michael John Amor will be its candidate for East Devon while Labour has not yet announced a candidate.

East Devon district councillor Eleanor Rylance is the prospective parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats.

UKIP also fielded a candidate in the 2017 election, with Brigitte Graham picking up 1,203 votes.

Cllr Wright added: "This time around will be a challenge like Hugo has never seen before, while I will be building on my 21,000 votes.

"For the first time I think if I don't win this time it is never going to happen, so it feels like this is my third and final time.

"I think I have a really good chance. It is about my appeal - the fact I am independent means I can appeal across the different parties. I have a good reputation for being a hard-working councillor that gives it her all and does her utmost to help local people and I'm free from the party line and whip.

"A no-deal Brexit would be catastrophic.

"The Government has been stockpiling body bags and one of its own reports expected a no-deal Brexit to cause medicine and food shortages."

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