Old political foes are to cross swords again in a fight to be the MP for part of Northumberland.
Conservative MP for Hexham, Guy Opperman, and Liberal Democrat Jeff Reid clashed a number of times when the latter was leader of Northumberland County Council.
They are now to renew hostilities, with Coun Reid having been chosen by his party to oppose Mr Opperman at next year’s general election.
Both men are relishing the prospect of rekindling their rivalry, with the MP saying he “did not agree with much of what Jeff did as leader of the county council,” and Coun Reid saying his opponent was “beatable”.
Mr Opperman was elected at the 2010 poll, at which time Coun Reid was leader of the county council. The Journal reported on several clashes between the duo, with Coun Reid declining Mr Opperman’s invitation to attend a public meeting over the council’s policy on equal pay claims, in 2011.
The MP said in a letter to his counterpart at the time: “I would have thought I do not have to remind you that, like myself, you are a public servant and answerable to the people who, lest we forget, pay both yours and my wages.”
There was a further clash last year over repairs to a landslip near the site of the County Show, in which Coun Reid hit out: “If Guy Opperman had lived here for more than five minutes he would have a better understanding of the issues we face.”
Coun Reid’s party was ousted from power at last year’s council elections.
He has now been chosen as Lib Dem candidate for the Hexham seat, having previously failed to unseat Labour MP for Blyth Valley Ronnie Campbell at the last three general elections.
Coun Reid last night said he had put himself forward as he was seeking a different challenge.
Asked whether he thought the MP could be toppled form what is a traditionally a safe Conservative seat, Coun Reid added: “Everybody is beatable.”
Mr Opperman last night said: “I did not agree with much of what Jeff did as leader of the county council, but he is a decent bloke and has done a good job of representing Blyth over the years. I look forward to a robust debate on my record as Tynedale and Ponteland’s local MP, and Jeff’s record as leader of the county council until 2013.”
Meanwhile, the Labour party has selected Liam Carr, a lecturer in Newcastle, to fight the seat.