Voters across north Essex will head to the polls on December 12 - and political commentators expect a three way battle in Colchester.

Legislation for an early election was cleared by MPs on Tuesday night but will still have to pass through the House of Lords.

It means Parliament is likely to be dissolved on November 6, paving the way for an election on December 12.

The election date may pose a problem for some schools used as polling stations with many having Christmas festivities and nativity plays scheduled.

Professor of Government at the University of Essex Paul Whiteley said there was now a “four party election system” with the Lib Dems and the Brexit Party having joined the fight.

In Colchester, incumbent Tory MP Will Quince will do battle against Labour’s Tina McKay, Liberal Democrat Martin Goss and Brexit Party candidate Jonathan Woods.

The Green party is yet to announce a candidate but has revealed its intention to field a member for both Colchester and Harwich and North Essex after launching a funding petition.

At the last election Mr Quince got 24,565 votes with a 5,677 majority over closest rival Labour.

Chelmsford Weekly News:

Prof Whiteley said: “In the case of Colchester this really makes it into a three way marginal seat and it could go for any of the parties.

“The Conservatives won by 46 per cent and there wasn’t a Ukip candidate in 2017, but there will be a Brexit candidate this time.”

Prof Whiteley said there were three scenarios which could result in either a Tory, Labour or Lib Dem win as voters are swayed by the party’s differing policies on Brexit.

“I don’t think the Brexit Party can win in Colchester but they could do enough damage to deliver the seat to Labour or the Lib Dems,” he said.

Prof Whiteley said the date and fatigue around Brexit and politics could have a bearing on the turnout.

“With the election on December 12 there is a chance there could be snow or rain and there is a view if the weather is bad turnout falls a bit,” he said.

“We have been in political turmoil for several years and particularly over the last year.

“People may be fed up but they want closure and may put on their wellies and go out even if the weather is bad.”

Prof Whiteley said the Brexit Party vote may have a big role to play in Clacton - despite no candidate having been announced yet.

Clacton will see battle between Tory Giles Watling, Lib Dem Callum Robertson and Green Chris Southall. Labour is also expected to field a candidate.

In 2017, Mr Watling won with 27,031 votes.

In Harwich and North Essex Sir Bernard Jenkin is set to stand again.

Mike Beckett, of Colchester foodbank, will stand for the Liberal Democrats but as yet there has been no announcement on who may stand for the Labour, Green or Brexit parties.

In 2017, Sir Bernard won with 29,921 votes beating Labour which polled 15,565 votes.

In Witham Home Secretary Priti Patel, who won with a 18,422 majority in 2017, will face off against Labour’s Martin Edobar and Lib Dem Sam North.

No announcements have been made for the Greens or Brexit Party.

Tory party chairman James Cleverley will stand again in Braintree against Labour candidate Joshua Garfield, the Brexit Party’s Samuel Cowie and former Colchester councillor Dominic Graham for the Lib Dems. Mr Graham came third in Harwich and North Essex in the 2017 election with 2,787 votes.

As yet no Green party candidate has been named.

In Maldon, Colin Baldy has been declared for the Lib Dems and Janet Dine for the Green Party, vying to take the seat from Conservative MP John Whittingdale.