MPs and parliamentary candidates across Stevenage and North Hertfordshire have reacted to the announcement that a general election will be held on Thursday, July 4.

Rishi Sunak confirmed the date in a Downing Street speech yesterday (May 22), kicking off a six-week campaign before voters go to the polls.

Stevenage will get a new MP, with Conservative Stephen McPartland stepping down after 14 years in the role.

Alex Clarkson will seek to retain the seat for the Conservatives. In a statement posted on social media, he said that "only the Conservatives can secure Stevenage's future".

He pointed to Covid and the Ukraine war as examples of "the scale of what we have been through as a country", and said that "economic stability is the key to our future success".

Commenting on recent growth and inflation figures - prices are still rising, but the rate at which they are rising has fallen to 2.3 per cent - Mr Clarkson said this was "only the beginning".

"A secure future for you, your family and your country can only be guaranteed by building on the future we have already started to shape. We cannot go back to square one with Labour.

"We have a plan. We didn’t get everything right since 2019 but we took bold action. The work since Rishi Sunak became PM has been incredible. We stuck with what was right, not what was easy.

"Labour have no plan. Do you know what they stand for? Starmer abandoned all the promises he made to become Labour leader. He will do the same to become leader of this country.

"As a local lad, born and bred who loves this town and its surrounding villages, I will work tirelessly to become your local MP. An MP for Stevenage, from Stevenage.

Kevin Bonavia, Labour's candidate for Stevenage, said that voters in the constituency are "crying out for change ... after 14 years of an out of touch Conservative government and over a decade of a can't-get-in-touch Conservative MP".

"Finally, a general election has been called for 4th July, and our town and villages get the chance to elect a local, accessible MP who is on their side.

"The aspiration in which Stevenage was built upon is the same aspiration I have for our community in the years ahead. With a hardworking, full-time MP and a Labour government that takes a direct interest in Stevenage – a better future is possible.


"Everyone feels like it’s time for change. But I know that trust has to be earned first. So as I have done for the last few years, I’ll be knocking on doors day in and day out to talk about my plans for Stevenage and Labour’s plans for the country."

In Hitchin, meanwhile, Conservative Bim Afolami will be hoping to retain his seat. Mr Afolami has represented Hitchin & Harpenden since 2017, but boundary changes mean the seat is now known simply as Hitchin, with Harpenden being split into a separate constituency.

A second sitting MP will be contesting the seat too - Alistair Strathern, who won the Mid Bedfordshire by-election for Labour last year. He lives in Shefford, which is currently part of Mid Beds but will become part of Hitchin constituency after the boundary changes.

Mr Strathern told the Comet that the election is "finally our chance for change across our towns and villages".

“Fourteen years and five prime ministers later, the Conservatives have caused NHS waiting times to triple, energy bills to spiral and the cost of living to go through the roof. 

“All of the independent polling and the local election results are clear that it is Labour who can beat the Conservatives in our brand new constituency. 

“I hope I can earn your trust to deliver the change we need.”

Chris Lucas is the Liberal Democrat candidate for Hitchin, and argues that it is his party which is best placed to oust Mr Afolami. The Lib Dems came second under the old Hitchin & Harpenden boundaries at the last general election in 2019.

“Just a few weeks ago at the local elections people across the Hitchin constituency put their trust in the Liberal Democrats and delivered an excellent result with even more of our hardworking councillors elected to serve locally.

"That broad based support across both rural and urban areas makes me the best candidate to begin a new chapter.”

He continued: “We have been let down by the Conservatives for too long. The Lib Dem team has been eagerly awaiting this chance to deliver a fair deal for all across the new Hitchin constituency.

"We need to turn the page on the catalogue of disasters which has been unleashed by the Tories and tackle the crises in our NHS, the struggling economy and threats to the environment like polluted rivers. I will work tirelessly to deliver our pledge as a hard working local champion."

Bim Afolami has been contacted for comment on this story.