UK

Labour's Jess Phillips Says 'Snap' General Election Shows Westminster Doesn't Understand People

MP tells HuffPost UK: 'There's no appetite for this where I live'.

18/04/2017 20:23 BST

Labour MP Jess Phillips has criticised the “political opportunism” fuelling Theresa May’s decision to call a snap general election and suggested it is baffling voters.

The MP for the marginal Birmingham Yardley seat said she stood in 2015 as “someone who came from outside” Westminister and argued she cannot see how the next vote would make life “clearer, more stable and more secure”.

Speaking in the Commons during an emergency session following the Prime Minister’s revelation, she said:

“I wasn’t going to speak but it may well be the last time I get the chance. 

“I came here to speak honestly and plainly, and to speak like the people who were outside of this building.

“What I cannot understand from what the Leader of the House has said today is how any of this makes things clearer, makes us feel more stable, more secure.

“How does this look to people outside? And as someone who came from outside, this just looks like political opportunism.” 

In the aftermath, three Labour MPs, including ex-Home Secretary Alan Johnson, announced they were standing down before the election.

The comments by Phillips, who managed domestic abuse refuges before entering Parliament, echo those of ‘Brenda from Bristol’.

The nation was left stunned by the Prime Minister’s surprise announcement that she would be seeking a general election on 8 June.

After a turbulent 2016 saw the UK vote to leave the European Union and two years after David Cameron sneaked a Tory majority, many could have been forgiven for hoping for a quiet year. Including ‘Brenda from Bristol’, who was voxpopped by the BBC about May’s announcement.

Phillips later told HuffPost UK:

“There is no appetite where I live for an election. People want desperately to be getting on with things. This is completely about Theresa May playing a game, just like Cameron did. They don’t care about people in Birmingham Yardley. They care about themselves.”

Speaking from the steps of Downing Street on Tuesday morning, May said an election was needed to “secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond”.

The prime minister added: “We need a general election and we need one now.”

An election had not been due until 2020. And Downing Street has repeatedly denied any suggestion that May might attempt to call an early poll.

The latest polls suggest the Conservative Party will increase its majority over Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party, which trails by 20% in some polls. May says the decision is nothing to do with the parlous state of Labour, but more its negativity over Brexit.

 

But a snap Guardian/ICM poll conducted today suggests the majority of voters think May is right to go for an early election.

People were asked if they supported or opposed May’s decision to call an election, with support from 55% and 15% opposed. Though 30% suggesting they don’t know suggests a certain level of indifference.