POLITICAL parties are racing to draw up a list of candidates for a snap General Election which is less than 50 days away.
Prime Minister Theresa May made the shock announcement to call a snap General Election on Tuesday morning – the vote will take place on June 8.
That means East Lothian residents will be going to the polls for the second time in the space of just five weeks, as the East Lothian Council elections take place on May 4.
Candidates for the Westminster vote will likely have to be announced by May 12 – just over three weeks time.
George Kerevan, current MP for East Lothian, is the only person so far to be confirmed as a candidate for the constituency, which he won less than two years ago in the last General Election, which was held in May 2015.
The SNP politician said: “I want to thank everyone in East Lothian for giving me the privilege of representing them at Westminster for the last two years.
“East Lothian is the most beautiful constituency in the UK, and I will be putting myself forward again.”
Mr Kerevan became East Lothian’s first non-Labour MP when he defeated Labour’s Fiona O’Donnell, who is now looking to become a councillor in the Preston/Seton/Gosford ward at the local authority elections next month.
Mr Kerevan took the seat with 42.5 per cent of the votes, ahead of Ms O’Donnell (31 per cent), Conservative David Roach (19.5 per cent), Liberal Democrat Ettie Spencer (2.6 per cent), Green Jason Rose (2.1 per cent), UKIP’s Oluf Marshall (2 per cent) and independent Mike Allan (0.3 per cent).
Iain Gray, East Lothian’s MSP, told the Courier the process of finding a Labour Westminster candidate for East Lothian had already started.
He said: “Labour activists are already on the streets and doorsteps working for the election on May 4 of Labour councillors who will put East Lothian first.
“In thousands of conversations over recent weeks, a recurring theme has been dissatisfaction and even anger at the SNP’s obsession with independence and another referendum. That is true even of many who have voted SNP in the past, or voted Yes in the 2014 referendum. The process of selecting our candidate here is already under way.”
The selection process is also under way in terms of the Conservatives.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson has welcomed the vote and said her party was “ready for a campaign, we are organised, and we are optimistic about the prospect of increasing our number of seats”.
Robert O’Riordan, convenor of East Lothian Scottish Liberal Democrats, said that the election offered “a huge opportunity” for voters to change the direction of the country and prevent “a disastrous hard Brexit”.
He added: “People in East Lothian voted decisively to remain in the EU, and certainly did not vote for the extreme form of Brexit that Theresa May has imposed on us.
“For all those who want to protect our local economy by staying in the Single Market and ensure the people have the final say over what comes next, this is your chance.
“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.
“Details of the East Lothian Liberal Democrat candidature will be announced in due course.”
A spokesman for East Lothian Greens said their focus was currently on the local authority elections. He said: “East Lothian didn’t vote for Brexit and certainly not for the Tories’ plans to take us out of the single market and refusing to guarantee the status of our European friends and neighbours who have made their homes here.
“The Tories’ decision to call an election and to seek a mandate for hard Brexit is pure opportunism given the dire state of Labour.
“East Lothian Greens will consider carefully whether we field a candidate but right now our focus is on electing Green councillors on May 4 to protect local services.”