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Political blog: Theresa May kick starts West Country Conservative defence

With Parliament set to be dissolved this week, the campaigning for the General Election is starting in earnest. Theresa May chose to start the day in the St Ives constituency.

This is her first visit to the West Country since calling this snap election and gives a strong hint of the Tory mind set heading towards the vote.

St Ives was a Conservative gain from the Liberal Democrats in the 2015 election and is the closest the Lib Dems came to winning a seat in the West Country - they were only 1,495 votes behind the Conservatives.

Theresa May is therefore on the defensive in Cornwall today, here to talk about her 'strong and stable leadership' and to convince voters that sticking with her party is the best thing for Cornwall.

The West Country is the Liberal Democrats heart land, but at the last election they didn't win a single seat here. They are pinning their hopes on a fight back this time round and St Ives is one of their main targets.

The Lib Dem leader Tim Farron criticised Mrs May at the weekend, suggesting that her party is complacent when it comes to the West Country because she has so many seat here.

She insists that's not the case, indeed every time I have interviewed her I have put that point to her and she says that her party stands up for all parts of the UK, including the South West.

Theresa May is hoping that, as vast swathes of the West country voted for Brexit, people will vote for her as the leader to negotiate our EU exit and ignore the Lib Dems who are more pro the EU.

The venue for her first South West visit is also important, it is a diving company that trades across the world.

Theresa May insists as we leave the EU we will be come a more global facing nation looking to trade with the whole world. She wants to prove that all business, not just large ones, can benefit from Brexit.

Theresa May took a massive risk calling this election and some of her MP's in the South West are worries about a Lib Dem fight back and her visit today suggests she is too.

She has chosen to visit early in the campaign and hopes her message of 'strong and stable' leadership will strike a chord with anyone who is thinking about returning to the Lib Dems.