Brexit Secretary David Davis has described Hartlepool as an ‘eminently winnable’ seat for the Conservatives during a visit to the town ahead of next month’s General Election.
The country goes to the polls on June 8, and the Tories have targeted Hartlepool as a seat they can snatch after Labour MP Iain Wright announced he would not stand again.
Carl Jackson – a friend and former colleague of Mr Davis – is standing for the party in the town.
The Tories appear confident of success, buoyed by last year’s referendum result in Hartlepool, when 70% of voters opted for the UK to leave the European Union.
Mr Davis says he feels they can convince many of those who previously voted for UKIP in the town to opt for them instead.
Speaking on a visit to restaurant The Conservatory, at Hartlepool Marina, he said: “This is an eminently winnable seat for the Conservatives. It was basically a three-way split last time, and we’re confident we can win this one.
“This is Brexit central.
“UKIP can’t deliver Brexit, but we can deliver the best Brexit. We’re finding that people, no matter which way they voted in the referendum, just want a good outcome from Brexit now.”
Mr Davis added: “The more Conservative votes there are, the stronger position we’ll be in to deliver that best Brexit.
“People who have never voted Tory before are coming across, and about two-thirds of UKIP voters are coming across to us.
“Even people who have been primarily Labour voters are planning to vote for us, because they want the best deal.”
Tory candidate Mr Jackson is from Buckinghamshire, but has been backed to move to Hartlepool should he win the seat.
Mr Davis, who also visited Hartlepool firm JDR Cables during his short stay in the town yesterday, added: “Carl is a friend of mine and has worked with me in the past.
“He is very clever and very dedicated, and would be an excellent MP for Hartlepool.
“He isn’t from here, but I’m sure that he would move here if he won the seat.
“It’s a nice place to live, and I would live here if I was him.
“He will be a good MP in local terms but also in terms of the grand picture of Brexit.
“Hartlepool has a great future ahead and it needs a great MP to ensure that, which Carl would be.
“This seat is very much in play.”
Also standing are Mike Hill (Labour), Philip Broughton (UKIP) and Andy Hagon (Lib Dems).