Tories and UKIP: We could take Berwick from Liberal Democrats

The Lib Dems could face a fight to keep Berwick at the next General Election believe the Tories and UKIP

Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith
Berwick MP Sir Alan Beith

Could the Liberal Democrats lose their flagship seat in the North East at next year’s General Election?

The Berwick constituency in Northumberland could become a three-way battleground following the decision by long-standing MP Sir Alan Beith to retire.

Sir Alan has a huge personal following which might not transfer to the party’s new candidate Julie Porksen.

The Conservatives, which held the seat before Sir Alan, will be making a big push for their hopeful Anne-Marie Trevelyan.

And UKIP, buoyed by winning a North East seat at last week’s Euro elections, believe their success has blown the race for Berwick wide open.

Labour has not traditionally had any impact in Parliamentary elections in the Borders town.

Sir Alan was quick to suggest the Euro result might not mean anything - but promised to put his heart and soul into Julie’s campaign.

He said: “As we saw last time round, Euro elections are different and we will be working hard for my constituents ahead of next year’s elections and backing Julie’s campaign to be elected as the next MP for Berwick upon Tweed in 2015.”

Julie admitted she would have to work hard to gain the trust of electors.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Anne-Marie Trevelyan
 

The campaigner said: “Liberal Democrats have been here before in European elections and have shown that with our hard work and listening to local people on local issues we have gone on to win seats at Westminster.

“This was clearly a strong showing for UKIP and none of the parties with experience of government will be happy to see so many voters showing their dissatisfaction with mainstream politics. All of us will be working hard to regain their trust.”

Elder statesman Beith has held the seat since 1973 and is the longest-serving Lib Dem MP in Parliament.

He was elected MP in a by-election following the resignation of Tory Antony Lambton who was caught in a drugs and sex scandal.

Leading Tory activist Anne-Marie Trevelyan was picked to contest the Berwick seat – which has historically switched between Liberal and Conservative - at an American-style open primary.

Tom Forrester, her campaign manager, said: “She is putting together all the statistics after last week.

“I think it is obvious the Lib Dem vote has collapsed in Northumberland. I am confident Ann-Marie stands a very good chance of winning Berwick for the Conservatives at the next election after what happened last week.”

The prospective parliamentary candidate for UKIP is Nigel Coghill-Marshall.

Margaret Weatheritt, joint organiser of the Alnwick branch, said the party’s success following Jonathan Arnott’s election as their first North East MEP, has galvanised support.

She said: “It has given us such a lift. All I can say is that we have not come down to earth yet.

“We are having a few days off before planning our campaign for the General Election.

“We already have a prospective parliamentary candidate in place and there is no reason why he should not do well.”

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