It’s the General Election that was definitely not going to happen, but now it’s on and by 9 June it is likely we’ll have a newly elected Government in place.
CLA Director of External Affairs Shane Brennan gives an initial view on the implications of this latest national poll on rural areas across England and Wales.
“It will only have been just over two years since the country last went to polls. At that election the Conservative Party made major gains across rural England, 19 seats in total, especially in the South West where they took mainly from the Liberal Democrats whose 11 seats all went blue. There was a more mixed picture in Wales.”
“Of course there has been another major poll since the election and in the EU Referendum rural England and Wales voted almost universally for Leave and did so with higher vote shares than the national average.”
See below for the vote share for rural areas in the EU referendum. (Article continues below graphics)
We will start to see seat-by-seat vote projections in the coming weeks, but as of today we have national polling numbers that suggest a pretty strong position for the conservatives. It’s pretty likely that in the past days as they weighed up this big decision, Theresa May and her advisers were focused on what gains the conservatives can make from labour in urban and suburban areas. They will be feeling pretty confident about the security of their rural ‘base.’ The big challenge of this campaign for all of us representing rural interests is to ensure that our issues are debated and given necessary share of voice.
The next Government will make decisions that will shape how our countryside works and looks for generations to come. Whether it is how to develop a replacement for the common agricultural policy, how to invest in vital infrastructure, especially broadband and mobile, and how we meet the growing pressure to find homes for the people we need to live and work in our rural economy.
For the CLA the election is an opportunity to remind candidates across all the major parties about the solutions that are available for them to embrace, and to reinforce how relevant the rural agenda is. Above all it is a chance to shape a Brexit that works for the countryside.