Conservatives pick Copeland and Stoke by-election candidates

Jack Brereton and Trudy Harrison Image copyright Conservative Party
Image caption Jack Brereton and Trudy Harrison will represent the Conservatives in Stoke and Copeland

The Conservative Party has chosen its candidates for two by-elections.

Jack Brereton, 25, will stand in the Stoke-on-Trent Central election triggered by the resignation of Labour MP Tristram Hunt.

Meanwhile, Trudy Harrison, 40, who lives in the village of Bootle where she was a parish councillor for a number of years, will stand in Copeland.

The by-election was called following the resignation of Labour's Jamie Reed.

Mr Reed said he was stepping down to take a job at the Sellafield nuclear plant while Mr Hunt has taken up a director's role at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Analysis: Gavin Stamp, political reporter

The Conservatives are quietly confident of doing well in both Copeland and Stoke-on-Trent Central, places that were once safe Labour seats but are now seen as being in play in the volatile Brexit climate.

In choosing a candidate for the west Cumbrian seat who has worked at Sellafield, the Conservatives are making a statement of their support for the nuclear industry, the constituency's largest employer.

If he were to win, the Conservative candidate in Stoke - 25 year-old Jack Brereton - would become one of the country's youngest MPs, although he already has plenty of experience having served on the local council for five years.

The party finished third in the seat in the 2015 election and faces a strong challenge from UKIP, whose leader Paul Nuttall is standing, as well as a Labour Party who on Wednesday evening chose former Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council leader Gareth Snell as its candidate.

Ms Harrison said she would campaign on supporting the local nuclear industry and backing the UK plans to leave the European Union.

"Copeland has had Labour MPs and Labour Councils for years," she said.

"They've ignored us and failed to deliver the jobs, infrastructure and services we need, and now they want to ignore how we voted in the referendum."

Mr Brereton, who was elected to represent the Baddeley, Milton and Norton ward on Stoke-on-Trent City Council in 2011, said: "This by-election has come at a crucial time for our country.

"It is an opportunity for the people of Stoke to send a message that the referendum result must be respected, and to back the Prime Minister's clear plan to make a success of Brexit."

Voting in both constituencies takes place on 23 February.

The other candidates so far declared in Copeland are:

Liberal Democrats: Rebecca Hanson

UKIP: Fiona Mills

Labour Party: Gill Troughton

The other candidates in Stoke are:

Liberal Democrats: Zulfiqar Ali

Christian Peoples Alliance: Godfrey Davies

UKIP: Paul Nuttall

Labour Party: Gareth Snell

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