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Craig Mackinlay confirms he will defend controversial South Thanet seat after Theresa May’s shock general election announcement

PUBLISHED: 12:39 18 April 2017 | UPDATED: 13:32 18 April 2017

Craig Mackinlay is announced as the winner at the Thanet South count at the Winter Gardens, Margate, Kent, 8th May 2015.

Craig Mackinlay is announced as the winner at the Thanet South count at the Winter Gardens, Margate, Kent, 8th May 2015.

Ady Kerry

Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage is yet to confirm his intention to stand but has suggested he would several times in recent weeks

Craig Mackinlay has confirmed he will be looking to defend his South Thanet seat if a snap general election is triggered on June 8.

MPs will vote on Theresa May’s announcement tomorrow, and if 66 per cent are in favour, voters will take to the polls to elect 17 representatives across Kent and Medway.

The South Thanet seat has been a hotbed of controversy in recent months, following an expenses scandal in which the Conservative Party is said to have “understated” spending during campaigning for the last general election in 2015.

In that vote, Mr Mackinlay was victorious over former Ukip leader Nigel Farage, whose party have since called for the Tory to resign over the controversy.

Mr Farage has said on numerous occasions in recent weeks he would “probably” stand in any future vote in South Thanet but is yet to confirm his intention today.

However, a bullish Mr Mackinlay told Kent News he didn’t expect a significant threat from Mr Farage, nor did he believe the spending scandal would affect potential voters, and was confident of another victory.

“It was totally unexpected, but I can see the wisdom in it in terms of offering strong, stable leadership and it also gives the opportunity for the country to come together,” he said.

“I can’t see why anyone who didn’t vote for Nigel in 2015 would do so now.

“[The spending] is an investigation, I have not been charged with anything and I maintain that I have not done anything wrong.”

Mr Mackinlay had the backing of his neighbouring Conservative colleague, Sir Roger Gale, who told Kent News the issue had not been raised when he spoke to residents over the weekend.

“It’s absolutely not Craig’s problem,” the Thanet North MP said.

“He and his agent submitted their expenses in good faith, completely legitimately.

“I was out campaigning in Cliftonville over Easter for our candidates in the KCC elections and it has not been mentioned once on the doorstep, it’s a non-issue.

“Ukip need to be looking over their shoulder because there will be people going after Farage’s expenses too.”

Mr Farage has also been accused of overspending on the Kent seat, but has also denied any wrongdoing.

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