Battle lines drawn as parties name parliamentary hopefuls

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Parliament was officially dissolved shortly after midnight today [Wednesday], triggering the five week campaign period.

The country goes to the polls on December 12, which will be the first winter General Election held in the UK since 1923.

The parliamentary constituency of Tunbridge Wells has been served by Greg Clark since 2005.

On Tuesday night, the Executive Council of the local Conservative Association agreed to readopt Mr Clark as their nominated candidate.

Mr Clark had the party whip restored following PM Boris Johnson’s call for a December election last week.

The Tunbridge Wells MP was among 21 ‘Tory rebels’ who lost the whip in September, expelling him from the parliamentary party, after they defied Mr Johnson and voted to support a bill seeking to block a no-deal Brexit.

Despite a petition raised in September asking the local Conservative party to de-select Mr Clark because of his stance on no-deal, no other candidate has been proposed for December’s election  the former Business Secretary will again be standing.

Joining Mr Clark on the ballot paper will be local Lib Dem councillor, Ben Chapelard, who will be hoping to improve on his party’s third place in 2017.The local Labour Party are also fielding a candidate: Dr Antonio Weiss, a serving councillor from the London borough of Harrow. The party came second in Tunbridge Wells in 2017.

During the last General Election held in 2017, Mr Clark won a 16,000 seat majority, but Tunbridge Wells, long considered a Conservative safe seat, could become harder to predict this time around due to Brexit.

Nigel Farage said on Monday that the Brexit Party would be contesting 600 seats in the UK with Tunbridge Wells among them. Christopher Pendleton is their chosen candidate.

A majority [54 per cent] of the local electorate chose to vote Remain in the EU referendum, and Conservative voters among them may not like the idea of leaving the EU with Boris Johnson’s withdrawal agreement and may decide to vote for a more Remain-friendly party.

Of the 46 per cent of local people who voted Leave, some former Conservatives could be feeling disaffected with Mr Clark over his stance on no-deal.

Independent candidates may also decide to stand on December 12, with nominations set to close on November 14.

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