Northern Tories Plot Campaign To Unseat Angela Rayner At The Next Election
The Northern Research Group of Conservative MPs (NRG) is planning to target Angela Rayner's seat at the next general election, as well as those of senior Labour figures Ed Miliband and Yvette Cooper, PoliticsHome understands.
The NRG, made up of Tory MPs who represent so-called Red Wall seats in the north of England, is working on its own campaign to unseat the three Labour heavyweights, who are all prominent members of Keir Starmer's Shadow Cabinet, plus other Labour MPs deemed especially at risk.
It will involve NRG MPs paying regular trips to target constituencies, starting early next year, in a sustained campaign of "northern collaboration" in the run-up to the next general election.
The group, led by Rossendale and Darwen MP Jake Berry, believes Rayner, Cooper, and Miliband are particularly vulnerable at that election, which is currently due to take place in 2024.
There is a widespread speculation, however, that Boris Johnson will decide to call an early election in 2023.
A senior Labour source said the Tory group "should put their constituents before their ambitions".
They told PoliticsHome: "At a time when people are being hit in the pocket by Tory tax-hikes and a cost of living crisis, it’s telling that the so-called NRG are talking about an election that hasn’t even been scheduled."
Rayner, Labour's deputy leader, retained her Ashton-under-Lyne seat with a majority of 4,263 at the 2019 general election, with the Conservatives in second place.
The Brexit Party, which now goes by the name of Reform UK, won 3,151 votes in the Greater Manchester constituency, and Conservatives in the region believe those votes will break heavily in their favour at the next election, putting Rayner at risk of losing her seat.
Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper's majority is just 1,276 in Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, with the Tories close behind. Cooper has held the seat since 1997. The Brexit Party picked up over 8,000 votes there in 2019.
Similarly, Labour's former leader Ed Miliband, who currently handles the climate change and Net Zero brief, defeated the Conservatives with a majority of 2,370 to keep hold of Doncaster North at the last general election, while the Brexit Party received 8,294.
The NRG is keen to prove that the 2019 general election result, in which the Conservatives took a number of traditionally Labour seats, some for the first time ever, was not a fluke or a one-off only made possible by the saliance of Brexit and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's unpopularity.
The group is also planning to put together a 2022 manifesto, containing policy proposals for their areas which it hopes will be taken on by the government.
The NRG has been having regular meetings with the government about what should go into the levelling-up white paper, which is now not set to be published until early next year.
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