Grant Shapps has vowed to "continue fighting" for the people of Welwyn Hatfield after a July 4 general election was called.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the date yesterday evening, saying the election will "take place at time when the world is more dangerous than it has been since the end of the Cold War".

A July election is earlier than many in Westminster had expected, with a contest in October or November widely thought to have been more likely.

Reacting to the news, Welwyn Hatfield MP and Secretary of State for Defence, Grant Shapps, described the election as "crucial for determining the future of our country", and vowed to "continue fighting tooth and nail for every single person who calls Welwyn Hatfield home".

Mr Shapps also warned constituents against voting for Labour, describing a government led by Sir Keir Starmer as a "risk".

"I'm proud to have helped thousands of Welwyn Hatfield residents over the years, and I'm standing for re-election so I can help thousands more," he told the Welwyn Hatfield Times.

"This is a crucial election, not just for determining the future of our country, but for Welwyn Hatfield too.

"The economy is growing, unemployment is low locally, inflation is back down to normal levels - and all this has been achieved having provided job-saving furlough support during COVID, and protecting households from even higher energy bills through Putin's illegal war in Ukraine. 

"But all of this progress is at risk. And whilst it's easy to stand on the sidelines and criticise like Labour, without any real answers, our growing economy and the defence of our nation - secure under Conservatives - would be at risk with a Starmer government.

"I've fought for thousands of Welwyn Hatfield residents, many local causes, and neighbourhoods across our area, and if you entrust me with re-election I'll proudly continue fighting tooth and nail for every single person who calls Welwyn Hatfield home."

Current polls predict Mr Shapps will lose his Welwyn Hatfield seat, which he has held since 2005, with Labour candidate Andrew Lewin expect to take a little more than 46 per cent of the vote.