THERESA May has announced a snap general election for June 8 which has stunned Westminster.

The Prime Minister had repeatedly denied that she would call an election before the next scheduled poll in 2020.

But following a Cabinet meeting at Downing Street she said she would go to the country this year.

Candidates from the 2015 general election in Salisbury have been reacting to the news.

Conservative MP John Glen, who was at Number 11 Downing Street briefing the Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond for Treasury Questions when the announcement was made, said it had come as a surprise.

He said: "We need this election now to secure the strong and stable leadership this country needs. I will be sticking to the plan for a stronger Britain that will take the right long-term decisions for a more secure future, and i will be taking that case to the people of Salisbury with enthusiasm over the coming weeks.

"I stand on my record as and experience as the local MP.

"The choice is between a strong and stable leadership in the national interest with Theresa May and the Conservatives, and a weak and unstable coalition led by Jeremy Corbyn.

Liberal Democrat candidate Paul Sample said "bring it on".

"The country is faced with a significant issues. The NHS is facing a financial crisis and the true horror of Brexit is just starting to emerge.

"The country deserves an opportunity to give its verdict on what has occurred and who's leading us and decide for itself who will lead the country in the next five years.

"I am surprised and I look forward to a strong campaign in Salisbury and I have every hope that Salisbury will return to the liberal fold in a few weeks.

"Bring it on. It's going to be an interesting campaign."

Salisbury city councillor Tom Corbin who said he would be willing to stand again as the Labour candidate said: "I'm a bit surprised, it's a little frustrating so close to the council elections.

"I would prefer to have had a little more distance between the two so people can focus on local issues rather than national issues when they're going to the ballot box.

"It's a snap election call, it's Theresa May's right to do that, it does mean that any arguments will not be particularly well made but that goes with the territory.

"Theresa May is obviously confident - she's going to try and use this to suggest a vote of confidence - it's the Tory machine playing big national politics and we'll just have to respond unfortunately."

Independent candidate King Arthur Pendragon confirmed his intention to stand in the poll and has issued a call to his supporters to raise the cash for a deposit.

He said: "I didn't expect it to happen. It all came completely out of the blue.

"It just shows you what dodgy games these politicians play.  One of the issues I will be campaigning on is the case I'm bringing against English Heritage's avaricious behavior in charging people to pray at Stonehenge at solstices. Hopefully I will be running in the election fresh from a victory at Salisbury County Court."

Andrew Murrison, MP for South West Wiltshire, has spoken out in support of the Prime Minister's decision and looks forward to the election campaign.

"The PM has made a considered call based mainly on her recent assessment of the chances of getting the right deal for Britain on Brexit. I look forward to the upcoming campaign," he said.

The previous Green Party candidate Alison Craig said: "We are obviously really stunned by the news. We are holding an emergency strategy meeting on Friday."

She said it was too early to say who would stand for the Greens in June, and refused to say whether she would consider running again, but said: "I strongly advocate that progressives in Salisbury constituency should work together in a progressive alliance to defeat John Glen."

The United Kingdom Independence Party (Ukip) has been approached for comment.

In her full Downing Street statement Theresa May said: "I have just chaired a meeting of the Cabinet, where we agreed that the Government should call a general election, to be held on June 8.

"I want to explain the reasons for that decision, what will happen next and the choice facing the British people when you come to vote in this election.

"Last summer, after the country voted to leave the European Union, Britain needed certainty, stability and strong leadership, and since I became Prime Minister the Government has delivered precisely that.

"Despite predictions of immediate financial and economic danger, since the referendum we have seen consumer confidence remain high, record numbers of jobs, and economic growth that has exceeded all expectations.

"We have also delivered on the mandate that we were handed by the referendum result."

"Britain is leaving the European Union and there can be no turning back. And as we look to the future, the Government has the right plan for negotiating our new relationship with Europe.

"We want a deep and special partnership between a strong and successful European Union and a United Kingdom that is free to chart its own way in the world.

"That means we will regain control of our own money, our own laws and our own borders and we will be free to strike trade deals with old friends and new partners all around the world.

"This is the right approach, and it is in the national interest. But the other political parties oppose it.

"At this moment of enormous national significance there should be unity here in Westminster, but instead there is division.

"The country is coming together, but Westminster is not."