Conservatives to set up new headquarters in Leeds in bid to bolster ‘blue wall’

The Conservative Party has announced plans to open a second headquarters in Leeds in a bid to bolster its new “blue wall”.

The party’s co-chairman Amanda Milling made the announcement at the opening of the party’s virtual conference.

The Tories won a series of shock victories in December in seats across the north of England which had previously been regarded as part of Labour’s solid “red wall”, and the party believes a Leeds base will consolidate its new “blue wall”.

Ms Milling said she is aiming to have the headquarters open next year.

Tory MPs in the north of England welcomed the plans to open the new headquarters.

Alec Shelbrooke, who has represented Elmet and Rothwell since 2010, said: “We’ve been steadily building a Conservative stronghold in Leeds since 2010 – winning parliamentary seats and taking council seats from Labour.

“This is a great move and a great location to build upon our ‘blue wall’ base in the North.”

But the Labour Party in Yorkshire and the Humber responded on Twitter, saying: “The north shrugs. When we asked for a fairer share and more of what the south gets… this isn’t exactly what we had in mind.”

Of the eight parliamentary constituencies in the Leeds City Council area, three are currently held by the Conservatives – Elmet and Rothwell, Pudsey, and Morley and Outwood – all the others are held by Labour.

But none of these seats were Tory “blue wall” gains in 2019, although nearby Wakefield was one of their shock victories.

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Some of the most dramatic examples of the party’s inroads into Labour’s “red wall” were slightly further down the M1 with victories in constituencies like Don Valley, Bolsover and Rother Valley.

But Leeds is well located between this cluster and the north-east, where the Conservative also made unexpected gains in December, including in seats such as Bishop Auckland, Darlington and Sedgefield.

With the Conservative Party looking to create jobs outside of London, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the Civil Service should follow suit.

Speaking to the Conservative Party conference, Mr Gove said it is time for civil servants to be “closer to where the action is”, and he argued home-working during the pandemic proves the upheaval can work.

The Prime Minister has vowed to do more to create opportunities outside the capital, following his landslide election victory in December which saw traditionally Labour-voting areas across parts of the north of England, the Midlands and northern Wales vote Tory for the first time.

Speaking in conversation with West Midlands Mayor Andy Street, Mr Gove said: “Far too many Government jobs tend to be in the Westminster and Whitehall village.

“I think we need some of the big Government departments and the big decision makers not in London but closer to where the action is in the North West, the West Midlands, Teesside and Tyneside.”



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