AS battle lines are drawn for pre-Christmas general election, politicians across the region have mixed feelings about the timing, but are unanimous in their eagerness to take their fight to the polls.

Darlington’s Labour MP Jenny Chapman said: “I think it is going to be a tough fight, but they always are. I am looking forward to getting out on the doorstep.

“I think that sometimes elections do seem they are going to be like a single issue campaign, but they never ever are. A Tory government isn’t just for Christmas, it is for five years. People will be thinking long and hard, not just about Brexit, but all the other challenges that face our country.”

She added: “The main issues people in Darlington speak to me about are health, education, crime and climate change. And they want to know where candidates stand on those major issues. Our policy has strong policies in all those areas and the public know that the Tories have systematically destroyed our public services over the last ten years.”

North Durham Labour MP Kevan Jones, who did not support an early election, said: “Most people want Brexit to be concluded. I can’t see how this is going to move that agenda on. The Prime Minister had a deal he could have put before Parliament, but he chose not to.

“All now we are going to see is another delay in dealing with this issue.”

Mr Jones added: “We got now to make our case and that is what I’ll be doing in north Durham – building on the record of local commitment I have shown over the last 18 years and ensuring that damage and effects of last ten years of Conservative government are highlighted.”

Bishop Auckland Labour MP Helen Goodman said: “I think it's really important that people take this opportunity to get out and vote. Obviously Brexit is a big issue, but the real issue for people is who they want to be in government for the next five year. Do they want another five years of Tories?

“My own view is that it would have been better to resolve Brexit through a peoples’ vote, to give them a direct choice, because when you have a general election we are jumbling up issues like the NHS with Brexit. It (an early election) is not ideal but it is happening and we have to deal with the world as it is, not how we would like it to be.”

Tory candidate Dehenna Davison, who is contesting Ms Goodman’s seat, said: “For a while now it has been quite clear that Parliament is in a deadlock. I don’t think any candidate relishes the idea of a winter election specially. But it is clear it is really needed just to try and unlock parliament and see some progress being made.

“I am glad that it happened and that Labour came to their senses and have finally accepted to fight an election.”

Richmond Tory MP Rishi Sunak said he welcomed the coming general election. He said: “This is the opportunity the country has been waiting for to escape the logjam of this Parliament, to deliver the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal and to move on to Government’s ambitious domestic agenda to deliver better healthcare, schools and policing.”

  • The following Tory MPs voted for an early election: Simon Clarke (Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland), Robert Goodwill (Scarborough and Whitby), Kevin Hollinrake (Thirsk and Malton), Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough) and Rishi Sunak (Richmond (Yorks)
  • The Labour MPs in favour were: Nicholas Brown (Newcastle upon Tyne East), Alan Campbell (Tynemouth), Jenny Chapman (Darlington), Mike Hill (Hartlepool), Sharon Hodgson (Washington and Sunderland West), Ian Lavery (Wansbeck), Emma Lewell-Buck (South Shields), Andy McDonald (Middlesbrough), Ian Mearns (Gateshead), Grahame Morris (Easington), Laura Pidcock (North West Durham), Liz Twist (Blaydon). The region’s remaining MPs were listed as "no vote recorded".