The 2019 Election Battleground: North East

The 2019 Election Battleground: North East


Covers 29 parliamentary seats across urban Tyneside, Wearside and Teesside, along with the towns and rural hinterland of County Durham and Northumberland. Traditionally Labour’s strongest region in England, although it was also emphatically pro-Leave at the referendum in 2016 and Labour’s high command has increasingly struggled to connect with its traditional supporter base. But old habits die hard and while the Conservatives made remarkable advances here in 2017 in terms of voteshare, there is still some way to go before they can rely on returning more than a handful of MPs from the region.

Leave voteshare at the referendum in 2016: 58.0%

2017 seat tally (compared with 2015)

  • Conservatives: 3 (-)
  • Labour: 26 (-)
  • Lib Dems: 0 (-)

2017 voteshare (compared with 2015)

  • Conservatives: 34.4% (+9.1)
  • Labour: 55.4% (+8.6)
  • Lib Dems: 4.6% (-1.9)
  • UKIP: 3.9% (-12.9)
  • Green: 1.3% (-2.4)

Seats to Watch

Berwick-upon-Tweed (55.30% Leave)
Technically the top (for which read only) Lib Dem target in the region, their candidate Tom Hancock would need a swing of more than 15% to oust junior defence minister and doughty Brexiteer Anne-Marie Trevelyan, who increased her majority from 5,000 to almost 12,000 between 2015 and 2017.

Bishop Auckland (60.89% Leave)
Having contested Hull North in 2015 and Sedgefield in 2017, Dehenna Davison – who has signed the Stand Up for Brexit pledge – finds herself on the verge of becoming the first ever Conservative MP for Bishop Auckland in County Durham. The Tories were 502 votes away from ousting sitting Labour MP Helen Goodman in 2017 and a swing of barely 0.5% now would finish the job. It’s the top Tory target in the region and one of those seats where it is unclear whether the Brexit Party candidate is harming or hindering the Tories’ chances, depending on where their vote is coming from. Davison has written about her campaign for BrexitCentral here.

Blyth Valley (60.49% Leave)
Labour Leaver Ronnie Campbell retired as MP here before the election and he now hands the red baton to Susan Dungworth to defend a majority of nearly 8,000. In a seat where nearly a quarter of voters were still backing UKIP in 2015, the Brexit Party’s Mark Peart will be hoping to perform creditably, while if the Tories could manage a 9% swing, their candidate Ian Levy would be on his way to Westminster.

Darlington (58.10% Leave)
Sir Michael Fallon held this seat for the Tories at the 1983 and 1987 elections, while Alan Milburn held it for Labour with five-figure majorities during the Blair era. Labour’s Jenny Chapman has held it for three successive elections with a majority of about 3,000 and the Tory candidate at this contest, Peter Gibson – a signatory to the Stand Up for Brexit pledge – would now need a swing of a shade over 3.5% to snatch the seat.

Hartlepool (69.57% Leave)
This is arguably the top Brexit Party target in the country: it registered the highest Leave vote in the North East at the 2016 referendum; the party’s chairman Richard Tice is standing here; UKIP were only 3,000 votes off winning it in 2015 when they won 28% of the vote; and the area has form for kicking the political establishment, as evidenced by its electing as Mayor of Hartlepool (three times) Stuart Drummond who, as H’Angus the Monkey, was mascot for the town’s football team and stood as a publicity stunt on a manifesto of free bananas for schoolchildren. Labour MP Mike Hill had a majority of over 7,500 over the Tories in 2017, although his ability to articulate Labour’s Brexit policy was called into question in this ITV interview earlier in the campaign, viewed one million times on Twitter at the time of writing. Stefan Houghton is standing for the Conservatives.

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland (65.27% Leave)
Having held this seat comfortably during the Blair years, Labour narrowly held on in 2010 and 2015 before Brexiteer Simon Clarke captured it for the Conservatives in 2017. Now a Treasury minister, he will be hoping to increase his majority of 1,020, although Labour candidate Lauren Dingsdale will have other ideas.

Sedgefield (59.44% Leave)
Astonishingly, Tony Blair’s old seat now finds itself on the Tory target list. His successor here as Labour MP, Phil Wilson, has been a vociferous campaigner for a second referendum – despite six in ten of his constituents having backed Brexit – and Tory candidate Paul Howell would need a 7% swing to oust him.

Stockton South (57.76% Leave)
While the Conservatives gained Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland in 2017, their loss here in neighbouring Stockton South saw Brexiteer junior minister James Wharton defeated. Labour’s Paul Williams is now defending a majority of 888, with Conservative candidate Matt Vickers needing a swing of 1% to take the seat back.

Estimated Leave votes by constituency have been calculated by Chris Hanretty of the University of East Anglia

Photocredit: Reading Tom