Former Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle will be Lib Dem candidate in event of a snap General Election

Former Burnley MP Gordon Birtwistle has announced he will stand again for the Liberal Democrats should a snap General Election be called.
Gordon BirtwistleGordon Birtwistle
Gordon Birtwistle

Mr Birtwistle, who was the borough's MP from 2010 to 2015, will be the parliamentary candidate for his party in the event that the country goes to the polls again in the coming weeks or months.

Speaking to the Express, the 76-year-old, who is currently a councillor on Burnley Council, said he had lost none of his passion for politics and admitted he still missed representing his home town in Westminster.

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Standing for the pro-Europe Liberal Democrats, Mr Birtwistle said he felt everything should be done to achieve a deal with the European Union so that Britain can concentrate on domestic issues.

He said: "The Liberal Democrats had actually lined up a young East Lancashire man to represent us if Parliament was to sit its full term and a General Election held in 2022. However, the prospect of a snap election meant that our planned candidate felt he was not sufficiently prepared to stand in the coming weeks or months.

"It is a very rigorous and long process to be selected as a Lib Dem candidate, quite rightly, and so the party felt that with a potentially short time until the next election that I would be the best person.

"I have to admit I miss being in Parliament, although I don't necessarily miss the travelling or being away from family."

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Mr Birtwistle, who was one of the oldest new MPs elected in 2010, has said that nearly 10 years later that would be even more the case, but that he is fit and ready for the job.

"You are only as old as you feel. I'm still very active and my head still works even if parts of my body don't," he added.

Brexit is the issue that has dominated British politics in the last three years and the issue that could lead to a snap election, and something which Mr Birtwistle said was bitterly dividing the country.

He said: "The last three years have been a complete and utter shambles. Cameron, May and now Johnson, who is more of a dictator than a PM, have contributed to the mess the country now finds itself in.

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"My view is that we need to leave with a deal and if one is agreed that has to be put to the people of the country to decide. I am aware that around 65% of people in Burnley voted to leave the EU but how many wanted to leave without a deal we don't know. My daughter was an avid leaver and has now changed her mind.

"The country is now bitterly split and the Brexit issue is causing very nasty arguments between people. We have to get back to being decent people again and having discussions without it leading to fights.

"Parliamentarians should realise they are there to represent the people. There are a lot of non-Brexit issues, which are important to people, that are being ignored or put on the backburner because of Brexit.

"For instance, I think the treatment of our elderly is a disgrace. I think the Government sees elderly people as a nuisance. I'm 76 on Friday and I will always fight for better services for our elderly."

Mr Birtwistle was defeated in the 2015 and 2017 General Elections by Burnley's current Labour MP Julie Cooper.