Party loyalty '˜breaking down' claims Chancellor as Conservatives target Labour stronghold
The Chancellor has said that North East Derbyshire is undergoing a '˜political regeneration' that could see the constituency elect its first Conservative MP in 80 years.
Philip Hammond MP made the claim today on a visit to Millbrook Precision Engineering in Clay Cross with Conservative candidate, Lee Rowley.
It is the third time senior ministers have visited the marginal seat as many weeks - which remains a major target for the Tories on June 8.
He said: “I know parts of this area have had a tough time over the last few decades.”
“But it is obvious to me from going around and looking at the brand new factories springing up that there is a regeneration in progress.
“And there is also a political regeneration taking place as well.
“Old allegiances and old loyalties are breaking down and people are thinking again about what is best for the country.
“We are up here selling Theresa May’s message and people will make up their own minds on June 8.”
The day’s main national news was, of course, on many people’s minds during the tour of the factory as well.
Mr Hammond insisted there had been no ‘u-turn’ on social care and insisted the party remained proud of its manifesto.
“We are here saying people have a straight choice at the election,” he said.
“One of Jeremy Corbyn or Theresa May is going to be Prime Minister when we wake up on June 9 and people need to think very hard about that decision.”
During his hour-long visit, Mr Hammond was also asked about two contentious local issues - the HS2 high-speed rail project and fracking.
On HS2, he said that while he couldn’t talk about the exact route the track would take through Derbyshire, he felt sure the project would be a ‘gamechanger’ for the UK.
“HS2 will bring northern cities much closer to markets and transport connections in the south,” he said.
“Most of our competitors around the world have high speed rail as a core part of their infrastructure and if Britain is going to compete in the 21st century we have to have 21st century infrastructure - and that includes high speed rail.”
On Fracking, Mr Hammond said he was happy to see it take place in the UK - but only on a ‘sustainable and carefully regulated basis’.
“Fracking in North America has dramatically changed the energy market,” he said.
“Companies have come back to the United States to take advantage of lower energy costs and that has benefited both businesses and workers.
“We want to see the same benefits here but we have got the get the balance right.
“We need to make sure we protect the environment and that local communities benefit as well as the wider economy.”
The candidates for North East Derbyshire for the General Election are: James Bush (UKIP), Natascha Engel (Labour), David Kesteven (Green), David Lomax (Lib Dem) and Lee Rowley (Conservative).