A Government minister joined the campaign trail in Hartlepool as the Conservatives look to seize the town in this week’s General Election.
Damian Green, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, paid a whistle-stop visit to town to join local activists and Conservative candidate Carl Jackson on doorsteps.
The Tories say based on feedback from voters, they believe they have a real chance of turning Hartlepool from red to blue for the first time in 50 years.
Mr Green said: “I have been travelling around the country and it’s great to be here. We are in the last straight on the campaign now.
“This is a key marginal seat in this election which is why cabinet ministers have been coming here.
“We think there is a real chance the Conservative party can take Hartlepool for the first time in a very long time and we know we have got a good candidate in Carl.”
In 2015 the Conservatives came third with just over 20%. But with Brexit negotiations due to start soon after the election, the party says Labour voters will vote Conservative for Theresa May to lead the talks.
Candidate Carl Jackson said: “It’s a huge boost to the campaign to have Damian here. The figures and results on the doorstep are showing this seat is in play for the first time in half a century.
“The phrase that sums up what I’m hearing is ‘I’ve always been Labour but...’.”
They are also confident that UKIP voters will also switch to Conservative now that the vote for Brexit has been achieved.
Councillor Ray Martin-Wells, Conservative group leader on Hartlepool Borough Council, and also chairman of the party’s local association, said: “This is the first time that I have got a buzz about a General Election campaign. The message on the doors we have been getting from some staunch Labour supporters is they can’t believe they are going to do it but they are going to vote Conservative.”
Hartlepool is also being contested by Labour candidate Mike Hill, Phillip Broughton for UKIP and Andy Hagon for the Liberal Democrats.