VOTERS will go to the polls in June to elect an MP for West Dorset two years after Sir Oliver Letwin won his fifth ballot.

On Tuesday morning, Prime Minister Theresa May announced a snap general election to take place on Thursday, June 8 - three years ahead of the next scheduled ballot in 2020.

Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act introduced by her predecessor David Cameron, Mrs May required the support of two-thirds of MPs to go to the country, with a vote won in the House of Commons on Wednesday by 522 to 13.

Sir Oliver, who last year stated he would retire from office in 2020, will stand again in June.

He told The News: "I promised my local Conservative association that, in the unlikely event of a snap election, I would seek reselection.

"So it is one last election if reselected and one last Parliament if reelected."

Liberal Democrat candidate for West Dorset, Andy Canning, said the announcement was "really good, positive news."

He said: "The Conservatives have been pushing us down this hard-Brexit route and this is a real opportunity to put things on pause.

"Some real decisions are to be made."

Bridport town councillor Kelvin Clayton announced on Twitter that he will be standing for the Green Party in West Dorset.

He said: "It will be my honour to fight the general election for the Green Party in West Dorset."

He also labelled the election "a golden opportunity for progressive parties to work together in West Dorset to seriously challenge Tories".

He added: "I think the decision to call the election is an cynical attempt gain a large majority, help destroy Labour and any effective opposition, and by focussing on Brexit divert attention away from issues of critical importance."

Nick Boothroyd, secretary of Bridport Labour, said: "The West Dorset constituency is in the process of selecting a candidate to contest the forthcoming general election.

"It remains to be seen if the electorate welcomes this early election, which may well be seen as cynically opportunistic on the part of the Prime Minister."

The Prime Minister had repeatedly denied that she would call an election before the next scheduled poll in 2020, but speaking outside Number 10, the Prime Minister said the Cabinet had agreed to call an early election. The decision takes place against the backdrop of the country's decision to leave the European Union in last year's referendum.

Justifying the decision, Mrs May said: "The country is coming together but Westminster is not."

She said the "division in Westminster will risk our ability to make a success of Brexit".

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."