POLITICIANS have welcomed news of an early general election.

Theresa May yesterday announced a snap general election – three years ahead of the next scheduled poll in 2020.

The move takes place against the backdrop of the country's decision to leave the European Union in last year's referendum.

Under the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act introduced by her predecessor David Cameron, Mrs May will require the support of two-thirds of MPs to go to the country, with a vote scheduled in the Commons today.

Current MPs for South and West Dorset, Richard Drax and Sir Oliver Letwin, have said they will be standing.

West Dorset MP Sir Oliver previously said he would stand down at the 2020 election.

But a spokesman for Sir Oliver said that, "in accordance with pledges he has made to the local association, will resubmit his name for re-selection with these unusual circumstances.

“If re-elected he intends to stand to the end of the next parliament.”

South Dorset MP Richard Drax said the decision to hold a snap election was the “right move” and will help to "negotiate the best deal for our country."

“We should ignore the siren calls to make this a second EU Referendum, or a chance to oppose a so-called ‘hard Brexit," said Mr Drax. "There is only one Brexit, and that’s to leave the EU. Mrs May has called the election early to get the best deal for our country, which is what most people in this country want, and we want everyone behind us."

Mr Drax said the election will be "truly historic" and, if elected, will allow Theresa May to "forge a new and very exciting path" for the country.

"We are negotiating the best deal for our country and we are convinced we will get it," he said. "This will cast us on a path to regaining our country. It’s very, very exciting in my view. If we did not do this there would be obstacles around every corner we take, which is not acceptable. This will be about getting behind Mrs May, supporting our country and allowing us to forge a new and very exciting path.

"I have never been more optimistic about the United Kingdom’s future.”

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

"The Conservatives having been pushing us down this hard-Brexit route and this is a real opportunity to put things on pause," he said. "Some real decisions are to be made."

Rural Services Network (RSN) chief executive Graham Biggs said: "The Prime Minister called this general election to strengthen the UK's hand during Brexit negotiations."

"Given the amount of support it receives from Brussels, the rural sector will be among those most affected by the UK's decision to leave the European Union.

"In seeking to be elected or re-elected to parliament, it is vital that politicians remember the needs of our rural communities – and we will be fighting to ensure the rural voice is heard."

List of proposed candidates for 2017 election known to the Echo so far:

South Dorset

Richard Drax (Conservative) Howard Legg (Lib Dem) Jon Orrell (Green)

West Dorset

Sir Oliver Letwin (Conservative) Andy Canning (Lib Dem) Kelvin Clayton (Green)