The news broke last night when I was in one of my regular election campaign team meetings.

Subject to approval by the Lords, there will be a general election on the 12 December.

So we’ve started the countdown to what is being dubbed the most unpredictable and epic general election in living memory.

The last December election was almost 100 years ago, and campaigning is going to tough, with dark nights, cold and possibly pretty awful weather.

But despite the challenges of leafleting and door knocking, last night the air of excitement was palpable. We sensed the enormity and potential of what we’re about to enter.

An election that is alive with possibility. Anything could happen, according to polling experts, like Professor John Curtice.

The next six weeks are for us, stretch gloriously out, full of intense activity, inspiring interactions with others and above all, hope.  Hope that this time the East Devon constituency could finally break its 150 year Conservative rule and see an Independent MP elected, whose manifesto is based on local people’s views and who intends to truly represent the people of East Devon, with no party whip to get in the way of that representation.

This is my third general election. I have effectively been campaigning to be East Devon’s MP for six years, including over a year of preparation for this one.

The preparation we’ve put into this campaign is in sharp contrast to the snap election of 2017 where I was completely taken by surprise by the announcement, which arrived in the middle of the Devon County Council elections.

I had to gather a team and funding at what felt like 100mph, while still campaigning to retain my county seat!

And who would have thought that in this election, in a supposedly safe Conservative seat, an election would have been called with no Conservative candidate! Sir Hugo Swire, of course has announced his intention to resign.

This time feels different. It has a different energy about it. I’ve been a councillor for a decade. And I’m a seasoned campaigner, having fought five elections (this is the sixth) since 2011 and once again, I have a strong, committed and extraordinarily motivated and hardworking team around me. I am also very fortunate to have a much wider team of hundreds of leafleters and door knockers.

That’s not to say we don’t need more though. We do!

I hope that the election in East Devon will reflect the mood of the nation in that my opponents will be respectful and polite when challenging me and I in turn, also pledge to operate in the same way.

I’m really looking forward to getting out there and meeting lots of you!

I’m signing off now. There’s much to do!

I can’t wait!

Pic: Here’s some of my core team last night a few moments after we heard the general election confirmed for the 12 December.