Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Could the Unthinkable Happen - the Tories Taking North East Labour Seats?

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Could the Unthinkable Happen - the Tories Taking North East Labour Seats?

Article excerpt

WHILE recent opinion polls points towards a Tory majority government if, as expected, the June 8 general election gets the go-ahead, the party could struggle to win more seats in the North East.

It currently holds Berwick and Hexham, both in Northumberland, and Stockton South. The Lib Dems have no seats in the region, and Labour holds 26 seats.

However, the situation in the North East is particularly hard to predict because UKIP won 17% of votes in the region in 2015.

It remains to be seen if UKIP, known for its opposition to EU membership, will do better this time, or whether its share of the vote will fall following the loss of former party leader Nigel Farage and the Conservative Party's success in taking on the role of the part of Brexit.

Attention is also likely to focus on Berwick, where the Liberal Democrats will be fighting to try to unseat defending Conservative MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

Alan Beith held Berwick for the Liberals, later the Liberal Democrats, from 1973 to 2015. The party has carved out a role as the most pro-EU major party while Mrs Trevelyan is an outspoken supporter of Brexit.

She said: "The Prime Minister has signalled her intention to go to the country on June 8 to give voters a clear choice between a stable Government, with a strong leader in Theresa May, or a weak, shambolic coalition Government with Jeremy Corbyn propped up by the Lib Dems and the SNP.

"An election held before the negotiations with the European Union begins mean the country has the opportunity to vote for a stable future and certainty for a full five years, not just up to the point at which we leave the European Union but beyond it, too."

Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: "This election is your chance to change the direction of our country.

"If you want to avoid a disastrous Hard Brexit. If you want to keep Britain in the Single Market. If you want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is your chance.

"Only the Liberal Democrats can prevent a Conservative majority."

Labour's Nick Brown, who will be defending Newcastle East, said: "It's Theresa May's choice to hold this election but my response is, bring it on. …

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