MPs across the Portsmouth area are reacting as Theresa May calls a snap general election.
The prime minister had previously said she would not call another election until 2020.
Explaining her change of heart on an early election, Mrs May said: ‘I have concluded the only way to guarantee certainty and security for years ahead is to hold this election.
‘At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division. The country is coming together, but Westminster is not.’
Penny Mordaunt, Portsmouth North MP, backed the prime minister, echoing her thoughts that ‘Westminster had not come together’ following the outcome of the Brexit result.
She said: ‘Following the referendum last year, the country has come together and wants us to get the best deal possible from the EU and secure all the opportunities that comes from being free to forge trade arrangements with the rest of the world.
‘But the PM is right, Westminster itself has not come together, and she wants to give the government the strongest hand possible to deliver for the UK.
‘MPs have to vote for that to happen but I think it would be amazing if the opposition parties did not allow it.’
Flick Drummond, Portsmouth South MP fully endorsed the decision to call for the election, however, she expressed her ‘disappointment’ that it came only two years into her term as MP.
She said: ‘I fully understand the prime minister’s rationale on calling this general election because it allows the people to endorse the Government’s Brexit plan and that will guarantee stability and certainty as we undertake leaving the EU.
‘Personally, I am disappointed about the decision on the basis I am mid-way through working in Portsmouth South on so many initiatives such as finding and opening a senior centre, tackling homelessness and improving life chances for people in this wonderful city.
‘My hope is the people of Portsmouth South will allow me to finish this work after June.’
Gerald Vernon-Jackson, leader of the Liberal Democrats on Portsmouth City Council said he would again challenge the Tory MP for the seat which she won in 2015.
He said that he could see the ‘political logic’ in Mrs May’s decision and that it was a move to ‘destroy the Labour party.’
Mr Vernon-Jackson added: ‘I want to see the people have a say on the Brexit deal. In total, 55 per cent of Portsmouth’s exports go to the EU.
‘If we do not get a good deal and we are not a part of the single market then Portsmouth would be seriously affected and jobs will be lost. At the moment, it is looking likely that it is going to be a very bad deal so if the people of Portsmouth South do not want to see a Conservative MP, then they should vote for the Liberal Democrats to see that the people have a say.’
Alan Mak, Havant MP said the announcement was ‘unexpected’ but declared he was ready to challenge for the seat.
He said: ‘Over the last two years I have worked very hard for those in my community and have been an active, hardworking local MP.
‘I am very much looking forward to the election and I hope residents will support me again to continue my work for them.’
‘I’m ready for another election and I think the Conservatives will be. We need to make sure the country has the strongest possible government as we head into the Brexit negotiations.
‘We have a one-off chance to hold an election while the European Union agrees its negotiating position and before the detailed talks begin. This decision cannot be delayed and needs to happen now.’
Caroline Dinenage, Gosport MP backed the Tory leader’s reveal, echoing the thoughts of her fellow Conservative MPs that the election aid Mrs May ahead of Brexit negotiations.
She said: ‘The surprise announcement makes perfect sense. People in this area decisively voted for Brexit last summer. This election will help secure the strong and stable leadership the country needs to see us through Brexit and beyond.
‘Every vote cast for Theresa May and the Conservatives will count to strengthen Britain’s hand in those Brexit negotiations.’
Suella Fernandes, Fareham MP said: ‘The government has a clear mandate from the British people to leave the Eu, an election will further strengthen the prime minister’s negotiating hand in Europe.
‘Division in Westminster, from those who want to derail or frustrate the Brexit process risks weakening the government’s hand in its negotiations with Europe.’