AN MP has been criticised for writing to her constituents calling for a general election to be held "now" – just days after abstaining from a vote in the House of Commons to hold one.

Jenny Chapman sent letters to residents in her constituency over the weekend, saying an election was needed so people can make "their own choice about the way forward for Britain".

But last week, and again on Monday evening, the Darlington MP joined the majority of her fellow Labour MPs in abstaining from a vote in Parliament to hold an election on October 15, less than three weeks before Britain is due to leave the European Union.

Speaking to The Northern Echo, Ms Chapman insists she still wants an election to take place in the coming months, but her priority was ensuring the UK cannot crash out of the EU without a deal at the end of October.

Ms Chapman's Parliamentary rival Peter Gibson, the Conservative candidate for Darlington, said she was "running scared" from her constituents and was "frightened" of an election, and accused her of "standing in the way of Brexit at every opportunity".

But in response, Ms Chapman said she was still respecting the referendum result and wants Britain to leave the EU with a deal, and criticised Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his "lies" to the British people.

The Northern Echo:

She said: "The Prime Minister has lied about the negotiations, and it is a disgrace that Parliament has been shut down and his tactics can't be challenged.

"The election date of October 14 could be moved by Boris Johnson (until after the no-deal deadline). I do want an election now but no-deal has to be ruled out first. Nobody can trust a word Boris Johnson says or what he is going to do."

The Northern Echo:

In response to the letter, Mr Gibson said: "Once again, Ms Chapman has said one thing to the people of Darlington and gone down to London and done the exact opposite.

"She said she would respect the referendum result but, with the exception of voting to trigger Article 50, she has stood in the way of Brexit at every opportunity.

"Last week she didn't vote for an election and only 48 hours later she is delivering letters saying she wants an election."

In response, Ms Chapman said: "Peter Gibson has never lived in Darlington and he doesn't understand or care about the importance of British jobs and the impact (of no-deal) on jobs in Darlington."

Mr Gibson confirmed he voted remain in the referendum but he supports Brexit because "we live in a democracy".