Owl says: it would be tragic if other mainstream parties put up candidates against her which might bring a Tory back to power.
“National political pundits are predicting that independent Devon politician Claire Wright could be about to make history.
It comes after last night’s shock announcement that East Devon MP Sir Hugo Swire will not stand in the looming General Election. The Conservative saw his majority dwindle in the 2017 General Election after a serious challenge from independent candidate Ms Wright, who came a close second in the traditional Tory heartland – she gained 36 per cent of the votes with 21,270 votes and Sir Hugo took 48 per cent with 29,306 votes.
New Statesman political correspondent Patrick Maguire, said: “This is fascinating. Apart from North Down, East Devon is just about the only seat in the UK that could plausibly be won by an independent (in this case anti-austerity councillor Clair Wright) at the next General Election.”
Historically very few seats in Parliament have ever been won by candidates with no political party backing.
Although there are currently 31 independents in Parliament, they were all elected as members of different political parties and have later quit.
Today the independent Devon County Councillor for Otter Valley admitted she was shocked when she heard Mr Swire’s announcement that he won’t stand in the upcoming General Election. She said: “I had heard a few rumours but I didn’t believe them. There were no signs – in fact he had been more active in recent weeks.
“I think he knew he would have a stiff challenge.
“I have been preparing with my team for a year and we have recently ramped up our preparations rather swiftly. Now I am excited.”
She has been aware that nationally political pundits have begun to watch her with interest. She said: “It’s always nice to get a tweet from a National journalist. I have noticed on my Twitter feed that national journalists have started following me recently.”
Predicting a November election she said: “This will be my third election and my team and I are ready to build on the two previous elections.
“The momentum in 2017 and the excitement and energy was incredible – it felt then that I could win, and now we are that much further on.
“I was a serious threat. Brian May backed me before the last election as one of his ‘common decency’ election candidates.
“I think East Devon will be close whoever the Conservatives put forward. This is the Tory heartland. East Devon has been Conservative for 150 years. That’s what I’m up against. It’s a huge challenge.
“This will be my third general election and my manifesto will be based on a survey I carried out at the beginning of this year. Hundreds and hundreds of people filled out the survey and I feel confident I know the issues that people are concerned about in East Devon.
“The Conservatives have just been disastrous for the country – they have gone from one crisis to the next. It’s been like watching a slow car crash – and in the last few weeks it’s turned into absolute meltdown.
“The whole Tory agenda is simply about saving their own skin. The rhetoric seems to be about how they can out-Brexit the Brexit party and turn themselves into the new Brexit party.
“The things they should have been focusing on are public services and the environment. Devon County Council has lost £100m from its budget and all the people in Devon have lost out on services as a result of those cuts.”
The anti-austerity councillor is also known for her strong stance on protecting the environment. She said she likes to be totally independent: “I like to plough my own furrow. I don’t want to have to answer to a party and told what my policies are.
Bruce de Saram, chairman of East Devon Conservatives, said: “East Devon Conservatives would like to thank Hugo for his outstanding work as our MP since 2001 and also his service as a Northern Ireland and Foreign Office Minister, where he developed a passion for the Commonwealth among his many other interests.
“Hugo rose to the challenge of being our MP, winning five general elections. He has continually challenged injustice with great passion and been very visible in the constituency, standing up for local residents.
“We are very sorry to say goodbye to him and wish him well for the future.
“We will now begin a process to select a candidate to build on Hugo’s excellent work.”