Stoke & Staffordshire

Brexit 'not only issue' say Newcastle-under-Lyme voters

Billy Thomas
Image caption Billy Thomas said climate change was probably the most important issue

Brexit is not the only issue in December's general election, say young voters living in a marginal constituency.

The Staffordshire seat of Newcastle-under-Lyme was decided by just 30 votes in the last general election in 2017.

It is also home to Keele University, where some students are voting in a second national poll by the age of 20.

And while Brexit is on the agenda, some say other matters, including climate change, are the priority.

Newcastle-under-Lyme is the second most marginal seat in the West Midlands, with Paul Farrelly securing it for Labour two years ago with his slender, double-figure majority.

Mr Farrelly held the seat for 18 years, but announced he would not be seeking re-election. With more than 10,000 students at the university, they could play a vital role in choosing his successor.

Among them is 20-year-old law student Dylan Patel.

Image caption Voter Dylan Patel says Brexit is "taking all the limelight" from other issues

The potential Labour voter said he thought Brexit was "taking all the limelight" from other issues.

"Food banks, the NHS, a lot of homeless sleepers, and a lot of the parties are forgetting all about this and focussing purely on Brexit," he said.

He added a lot of his peers were "sick and tired" of Brexit, but cared about its impact on the economy and their prospects.

He said voting in marginal Newcastle-under-Lyme meant "every voice has a lot of weight".

Politics student, Billy Thomas, 20, conceded Brexit was one of his "main" issues, but added: "I think Brexit has been a huge distraction from a lot of the major issues that are really important right now, and climate change is probably at the top of that list."

He said he was considering voting for the Liberal Democrats, and would put his X in the box in Newcastle-under-Lyme, rather than his home constituency, because of the slim majority, adding there was a "real enthusiasm" among fellow students for taking part.

Image caption Mark Reynolds said he was most concerned about candidates' stance on local issues

Education and history student Mark Reynolds, 20, is an undecided voter, and said: "I think I am primarily voting on who best represents my interests as a local MP.

"I do care about Brexit, but a general election to me is about more than just Brexit."

He also intends to vote in Newcastle, as it offers him a "better opportunity" to have his say.

Candidates confirmed to be standing so far include Conservative Aaron Bell, Labour's Carl Greatbatch, Liberal Democrat William Nigel Jones, and Jason Cooper for the Brexit Party. The BBC webpage for the constituency will be updated with 2019 candidate information after the close of nominations later this month.

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