Leicester and Leicestershire MPs set out their stalls as they gear up for General Election fight

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announcing the date for the UK General Election at Downing Street on May 22, 2024
-Credit: (Image: 2024 Getty Images)

Local MPs will be fighting to keep their seats when Britain goes to the polls in six weeks time. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak made a surprise announcement last night, revealing the date of the UK’s next General Election as Thursday, July 4.

Nine out of Leicester and Leicestershire’s 10 representatives in Parliament have confirmed they will be standing again. However, one – Alicia Kearns – would no longer represent Leicestershire if she were to win.

Ms Kearns, currently MP for Rutland and Melton, will be fighting for the new Rutland and Stamford seat, with the country’s smallest county shifting over the border to join with Lincolnshire. The rest of her constituency will be linked up with parts of the existing Charnwood seat to form the newly-named Melton and Syston area.

READ MORE: What is my General Election 2024 constituency?

Just Claudia Webbe, currently MP for Leicester East, has not declared if she intends to run again. LeicestershireLive has approached Ms Webbe following yesterday’s announcement but had not received a response at the time of publication.

Leicester’s two Labour MPs, Liz Kendall and Jon Ashworth, used yesterday’s news as an opportunity to promote national change. Echoing the sentiments of their leader Sir Keir Starmer who told voters last night “the future of the country is in [their] hands”, adding: “Together we can stop the chaos, we can turn the page, we can start to rebuild Britain and change our country."

Ms Kendall, MP for Leicester West, told LeicestershireLive: “People across our city are desperate for change and at long last my constituents can have their say on this failed Tory government and their 14 years of chaos. Keir Starmer has today set out Labour’s long term plan to rebuild Britain: for economic stability, to cut the NHS waiting times, secure our borders with a New Border Security Command, to harness Great British Energy to cut your bills for good, to tackle anti-social behaviour, and get the teachers we need in your children’s classroom.

“I have great faith in the people of Leicester and the people of Britain. I believe we can turn the page, we can start to rebuild Britain and change our city and country for the better.”

Leicester South MP Jon Ashworth took to social media to say: “A general election has been called. And after 14 years of the Tories, it’s time for change. And we in Leicester need that change on our NHS.

“Families and pensioners across Leicester are left waiting longer, often in pain, discomfort and anxious for NHS treatment thanks to 14 years of the Tories. Leicester has been hit harder than the rest of the country by the Conservative failure on the NHS. Patients are waiting longer on average and children are more likely to have signs of tooth decay thanks to Tory failures on dentistry.

“People struggle to see a GP and our hospital A&E is often overcrowded with patients languishing on trolleys. Shockingly more than forty per cent of cancer patients wait longer than 62 days to be seen for treatment.

“Every parent wants the very best for their children yet in Leicester are forced to wait months for vital mental health care. It doesn’t have to be like this. A Labour government fixed the NHS before and will fix the NHS again. Only by voting Labour on July 4th will we get the change we need.”

Local Conservative MPs were keen to point to their records from the past five years. Dr Luke Evans, MP for the newly-named Hinckley and Bosworth seat, said the announcement was a surprise and clashed with his anniversary plans, but added he was “raring to go”.

He told LeicestershireLive: “While calling the election on July 4th was a surprise, I can understand why. With inflation the lowest it had been for months and the economy turning a corner, it is right to ask the people about whether they back our plan for the future, or want to go back to square one with the Labour party.

“I am raring to go as we have such a strong story to tell locally, with the £24 million investment in Hinckley and District Hospital being built as we speak, £19.9 millions for a conservation and education centre at Twycross Zoo, resolving concerns the inappropriate use of a hotel in the centre of Earl Shilton for asylum seekers and not to mention the millions of pounds that are going into schools across our community, such as The Hinckley School and Hastings High School. This is all funding I have fought to deliver, and am proud to have secured for our area.”

He added: “I must admit, I do feel for my wife. As we were due to go for a ‘staycation’ to Southend for our 5 year wedding anniversary this weekend, but with the anniversary gift of a General Election given to us by the Prime Minister, we have cancelled our plans and I’m going to have to do some serious making it up to her! But in this short campaign, delivering for Hinckley and Bosworth is my priority and I will be out every day doing exactly that.”

South Leicestershire MP Alberto Costa also spoke to LeicestershireLive today. He accepted residents might “be unhappy with things”, but said he did not believe that would necessarily “translate to we’ll be voting for Labour”. His priority if he gets re-elected will be to “maintain a buoyant economy” in his constituency which currently has an employment rate of 98 per cent, he said.

Mr Costa added: “By having a buoyant economy and by people being in gainful employment and good jobs that pay well, not only will that help people's quality of lives, but it pays tax and by paying tax, it pays for our health service, our education, our roads, our defence, et cetera. So South Leicestershire has done well over the last nine years.

“We're known as the Golden Triangle for logistics. We've got one of Europe's largest logistics parks, Magna Park, which is expanding. So my job ultimately is to maintain and strengthen the economy in South Leicestershire.”

He said he remains “cautiously optimistic” about his Party’s elections changes, adding: “At the end of the day, Keir Starmer in the Labour Party today is not Tony Blair and Gordon Brown from 1997 because, frankly, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown were a formidable government in waiting. That's not what we see here.”

Harborough, Oadby and Wigston MP Neil O’Brien also pointed to his achievement in post, but added there was still “much more to do”. He said: “I love working for the people of Harborough, Oadby and Wigston, and I'm looking forward to the election campaign.

“We have made real progress here in the last four years. Crime is down, and there are 332 extra police officers in Leicestershire compared to four years ago. We are sorting out local transport, from the electrification of the railway to the half hourly buses on the A6, and the extra £238 million the council was just given to sort out potholes.

“As a Minister I managed to secure a big extra investment in GPs. We are spending more in real terms and have brought in new NHS services like Pharmacy First for minor illnesses. Waiting lists are now falling.

“We have made progress in sorting out housing and planning, and the Regeneration Act which I worked on as a Minister became law just a few months ago. It will mean more housing will come through brownfield regeneration, not concreting over the countryside.

“So a lot done, but much more to do. I'm looking forward to the campaign."

Jane Hunt, Loughborough MP, told us she has been “both honoured and thrilled” to have served her constituency over the past five years. She added: “I have worked hard on behalf of the people of Loughborough, Shepshed, Quorn, Barrow, Sileby, Hathern, Mountsorrel Castle and The Wolds villages both at home and in Westminster, bringing forward the ideas and concerns of the electorate to Ministers, officials and support organisations. I have also championed causes locally with local agencies.

“Above all else, I have championed the individual cases of constituents, trying to help them solve the many and varied problems that arise in day-to-day life. I would love to continue the work I have started. For a local voice for Loughborough constituency, please vote Conservative on 4th July.”

Independent MP for North West Leicestershire Andrew Bridgen took a very different tone to his Conservative former colleagues, however. Taking to social media last night, he said: “Don't fall for the same old rubbish from the mainstream parties.

“Party politics itself is the problem. Independents are the solution. Make July 4th Independent's Day.” Edward Argar, MP for Charnwood, and Alicia Kearns did not respond to our request for a comment.