Norwich MP Clive Lewis explains why he was just one of 13 MPs to vote against snap general election on June 8
PUBLISHED: 17:26 19 April 2017 | UPDATED: 17:56 19 April 2017
Britain will go to the polls on June 8, after MPs cleared the way for an early general election.
Theresa May easily cleared the hurdle needed under the Fixed Term Parliament Act to bring the poll forward from the scheduled date of 2020.
With the Prime Minister needing the support of 434 MPs - two thirds of all seats in the House of Commons - some 522 voted for the early election, with just 13 against.
Norwich South MP Clive Lewis, who has had to curtail his honeymoon because of the election, was one of the MPs who voted against it.
Explaining his vote against, he said: “The key thing here is the fixed term parliament act was put in place by the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to give them some sort of protection against destabilisation and a general election being called before they wanted one.
“Now Theresa May feels she wants a general election and she bypasses it. That’s not what it was there for.
“She lied to the British public about calling an early election and she’s just playing a political game at such a critical time.
“I could have abstained, but I wanted to make a positive statement. It’s not that I’m scared of a general election, I’m not. We should always be prepared to face the electorate, but there are messages here and a narrative that I felt I needed to get across.”
Yesterday, the Labour MP, who won the Norwich South seat from the Liberal Democrats two years ago with a majority of 7,654, had accused the prime minister of “cynical political opportunism”.
He said: “She’s blaming Labour and she’s blaming the Liberal Democrats. Come on, it’s about her own internal opposition and she’s not doing this in the best interests of the country.
“Who on earth would hold a general election at the start of the most critical talks in the history of this nation’s history?
“She’s playing politics with our futures. The argument that she wants a mandate doesn’t stack up either. If she wanted a mandate, why didn’t she call a general election as soon as she became prime minister without anybody having a vote?
“This is all about the self-serving interests of Theresa May. There’s so much cynical political opportunism about this that it’s hard to know where to begin.”
But James Wright, Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Norwich South, said: “Clive Lewis is running scared of a general election because he knows how unpopular Labour’s decision was to give the Tories a blank cheque for a hard Brexit.
“This election is a chance to change the direction of the country. People in Norwich South voted decisively to Remain in the EU.
“They deserve to be represented by a party that is united in opposing a destructive hard Brexit. The Liberal Democrats are the real opposition to the Conservative Brexit Government and the only party fighting for a Britain that is open, tolerant and united.”
There was never any real doubt about Mrs May securing the backing needed to go to the country, with both Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and Liberal Democrat Tim Farron saying they welcomed the election - though Scottish National Party MPs abstained in the vote.
The 13 MPs who voted against the early election
Thirteen MPs - including nine Labour - voted against Prime Minister Theresa May’s motion calling for an early general election.
This included Labour’s Ronnie Campbell (Blyth Valley), Ann Clwyd (Cynon Valley), Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme), Jim Fitzpatrick (Poplar and Limehouse), Clive Lewis (Norwich South), Fiona Mactaggart (Slough), Liz McInnes (Heywood and Middleton), Dennis Skinner (Bolsover) and Graham Stringer (Blackley and Broughton).
Three independents: Lady Hermon (North Down), Natalie McGarry (Glasgow East) and Michelle Thomson (Edinburgh West).
One SDLP: Alasdair McDonnell (Belfast South).
SDLP MPs Margaret Ritchie (South Down) and Mark Durkan (Foyle) acted as tellers for the noes