Oxford reacts to snap election as long-serving Labour MP resigns

Applications open for Andrew Smith's Oxford East seat, while Lib Dems hope to take Oxford West from Conservatives

Andrew Smith, the Labour MP Oxford East for 30 years, has announced he will not be standing for re-election in June’s general election.

It follows Theresa May’s announcement of a snap general election on 8 June. The statement made on Tues- day morning comes in light of Brexit proceedings and May seeking to gain a larger majority.

In a message on his website, Smith, 66, thanked his consituents for their support, saying: “This election is for a Parliament which is likely to run until 2022, when I would be over 71, so I think it is now time for someone else to take forward the work of serving local people as your MP. I will therefore not be a candidate in the election.”

Smith, who has held the seat since 1987, added: “It has been a huge privi- lege to serve as MP for Oxford East, and we have achieved so much together.”

Applications for a candidate to replace Smith, whose constituency covers the majority of Oxford colleges, opened on Friday 21 April and will close on Sunday 23 April. The candidate will be selected by the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC).

While Smith’s 15,280 majority from 2015 is unlikely to be overturned, the Liberal Democrats are hoping to unseat the sitting Oxford West and Abingdon MP, Nicola Blackwood. Her seat, which covers nine colleges, was previously held by the Lib Dems from 1997 to 2010.

Oxford University Liberal Democrats President-elect, Joe Crossley, said: “We will keep campaigning tirelessly for local issues and local people, and expect positive results.”

He added: “Here in Oxford West and Abingdon, we are sure our candidate Layla Moran will do very well against the incumbent Tory MP, who has a poor track record on civil liberties and voted against same-sex marriage.”

Ex-President and co-chair of Oxford University Liberal Democrats Alex White criticised the decision to hold an early election.

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“Whilst I’m very confident that the Lib Dems with throw everything at this election and give the other parties a run for their money, I’m deeply concerned that the PM has put the interests of her party above the country.

“The timing couldn’t be worse for a snap general election. She’s putting votes before the people she’s meant to represent.”

Speaking to Cherwell, the President of Oxford University Conservative Association, William Rees-Mogg, said: “OUCA looks forward to campaigning in the general election; it is after all what we are here to do.

“We hope to secure Oxford West and Abingdon in the face of pretty tough Lib Dem opposition, as well as helping out where we can up and down the country.”

In a statement released to Cherwell, Oxford University Labour Club have spoken in favour of the snap election.

Co-chairs Hannah Taylor and Thomas Zagoria commented: “We welcome the opportunity to challenge an unelected May government which has so markedly failed to create a country which works for everyone.

“In Oxford and in marginal seats we will be mobilising students to fight for social justice, an inclusive and open society, and a better future for workers and marginalised people.”