Sun, 10 December 2023

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Exclusive: The Tories Are Going To Launch A Second Headquarters in Leeds in 2021

3 min read

The Conservative Party will open a new party headquarters in Leeds next year in a bid to secure the seats won in Labour's former "red wall".

Party co-chair Amanda Milling will make the announcement on Saturday morning, on the first day of a digital version of Tory party conference.

The scramble to get a northern HQ up and running comes after a dire few weeks for Boris Johnson's leadership with backbenchers, including those from the 2019, growing increasingly frustrated and vocal over coronavirus restrictions and the econonic impact on their communities.

Milling, who is interviewed today in The House magazine, said that her mission as co-chair is to ensure the 58 gains they made, many in the north and Midlands remain in their hands at the next election, due in 2024. 

"We are fully committed to the manifesto commitments, and in particular the levelling up agenda.

"I always argue that my seat [Cannock Chase] was one of the first bricks in the blue wall and we’ve got to turn some of these light blue bricks into dark blue bricks," she said. 

The former market researcher, who served as a local councillor in Rossendale, Lancashire, was elected to Parliament in 2015 and was part of the team that rapidly assembled around Boris Johnson during his first stab at the party leadership in 2016.

The specific northern powerhouse minister role was removed earlier this year and the brief moved into transport secretary Grant Shapps' brief. 

According to information given to PoliticsHome the new northern base is intended to be a permanent presence in the north, not a temporary pop-up, with considerable party cash behind it so a joint headquarters can operate long-term.  

Number 4 Matthew Parker Street in Westminster has been home to the party's central office for the past six years and will continue to be its head office.

Unhappiness among Tory backbenchers over the Covid-19 restrictions in parts of the north spilled over this week with a group of 2019-intake Conservatives on Teesside demanding health secretary Matt Hancock and the leaders of local councils hold back on a region-wide lockdown. 

Jacob Young (Redcar), Matt Vickers (Stockton South), Peter Gibson (Darlington), Paul Howell (Sedgefield) were joined by 2017 Tory MP Simon Clarke (Middlesborough South and East Cleveland) in signing a joint letter saying the restrictions needed more time to bed in and they had concerns on the 10pm curfew. 

Young and Clarke both thanked Hancock publicly after the restrictions were placed on Hartlepool and Middlesbrough only but not the wider Teesside region.

North West Durham MP, Richard Holden, who also elected in 2019, said asked the government for far more consultation with Parliament before measures are introduced. 

"I ask the government to listen to us, because every decision they make without total victory will be a judgment call.

"I would like them to hear the balanced and thoughtful words, particularly from these Benches, and from elsewhere, and to continue to consult the House so that we can speak up for our constituents at an incredibly difficult time for so many of them."

Milling told the House that the Conservative Party still has the values of freedom and liberty at its heart and the public understand they are having to take meausres in extraordinary time to try and counter the spread of the virus. 

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