Central Ayrshire's MP has confirmed she will be defending her seat after Theresa May called a snap election on Tuesday morning.

The SNP's Dr Philippa Whitford said she's shocked but not surprised by the Prime Minister's U-turn and said she would feel honoured to be re-elected by the people of Irvine and Kilwinning.

Dr Whitford told the Irvine Times: “Although I am a little shocked at the suddenness of this complete U-turn by Theresa May, I am not entirely surprised by her decision to call an early General Election.

"Since becoming Prime Minister, she has presided over an absolute shambles, with no coherent plan for leaving the EU, and she is now trying to avoid going to the polls in 2020 when people start to see the real harm that will be done to the UK by Brexit. 

“Sadly, given the utter disarray that currently exists in the Labour Party, it is likely that the Tories will increase their majority in England which will allow them to move even further to the right with their relentless austerity agenda.

"Conversely, however, it gives Scotland another opportunity to show that we reject the right-wing policies of this UK Government such as the Tax Credits freeze, the outrageous 'Rape Clause', and cuts to disability support.  

“It is clear Mrs May wants to get her majority secured before forcing through a hard Brexit to marginalise UKIP who will inevitably be complaining that the Brexit isn't hard enough! She is, once again, putting the needs of the Tory party first. 

“From a personal perspective, it has been a privilege to serve the constituents of Central Ayrshire over the past two years and I would be honoured if the electorate were to place their trust in me once again on June 8.”

In the last 2015 general election, the SNP’s Dr Phillipa Whitford romped to victory with a majority of 13,589 - ending her Labour predecessor Brian Donohoe’s 23-year reign as MP for Central Ayrshire.

Overall, Dr Whitford gained 26,999 votes while 13,410 people voted for Mr Donohoe.

Conservative candidate Marc Hope finished third with 8,803 votes while Liberal Democrat Gordon Bain (917 votes) and Veronika Tudhope of the Green Party (645 votes) finished fourth and fifth.