BRIDGWATER MP Ian Liddell-Grainger has reacted to the news that voters will be going to the polls in July for a general election.

Mr Liddell-Grainger will be standing in the new Tiverton and Minehead seat after representing Bridgwater in Parliament since 2001.

He is looking ahead to campaigning and ‘championing the rural way of life’ – and says he was ‘delighted’ when Rishi Sunak called the election.

Somerset County Gazette: Rishi Sunak stood in the rain as he called a July general election.Rishi Sunak stood in the rain as he called a July general election. (Image: Lucy North/PA Wire)

“It gives me the potential opportunity to extend to Mid Devon the type of campaigning I have been involved in for more than 20 years,” he said.

“I come from a farming background myself and therefore am only too keenly aware of the challenges that have faced - and continue to face - British agriculture, upon whose fortunes depends the health of the wider rural economy

“My record on campaigning on rural issues will show I have never shirked from tackling institutions head on, be they the Environment Agency, Natural England or indeed Defra itself.

“At various times in recent years they have all got it wrong - often badly wrong - when formulating policies.

“I have never been scared of calling them out.

“Equally, I have been one of the most outspoken critics of the appallingly slow pace at which high-speed broadband and mobile communications are being rolled out into rural areas such as Exmoor and Mid Devon.

“I have taken up specific local issues, too, such as  the appalling financial losses racked up by Mid Devon Council’s 3 Rivers project, and the abysmal standard of bus services First Group has been providing for Minehead and West Somerset.

“And I have been ready to criticise the government whenever necessary rather than toeing the party line.

“My priority has always been to achieve what is best for my constituents, and living among them has given me first-hand knowledge of so many of the problems currently challenging rural families.

“I hope the election provides me with an opportunity to continue that work, because there is much still to do.”

Mr Liddell-Grainger is standing against Jonathan Barter (Labour), Laura Buchanan (Green Party) and Rachel Gilmour (Liberal Democats) in Tiverton and Minehead.

The latest polling from Electoral Calculus suggests the Conservatives are the frontrunners, with Labour expected to come in second, closely followed by the Lib Dems.

But figures from YouGov forecast the Tories to finish the election with 33 per cent of the vote share, followed by the Lib Dems (28 per cent) and Labour (20 per cent).