What could happen in the North East 'red wall' seats that went Tory in 2019?

Tory 2019 election winners Dehenna Davison, Richard Holden, and Ian Levy
-Credit: (Image: Chronicle Live / Daily Mirror)

The last general election proved to be a day of high drama in the North East.

There was plenty of attention on our region as Boris Johnson’s Conservatives took victory in a series of Labour-held ‘red wall’ seats.

As voters prepare to go to the polls again on July 4, we take a look back at some of those shock results and assess what is likely to happen at this election.

Blyth Valley

2019 result: Ian Levy (Con) 17,440, Susan Dungworth (Lab) 16,728, Mark Peart (Brexit) 3,394, Thom Chapman (LD) 2,151, Dawn Furness (Green) 1,146.

Ian Levy’s win in Blyth Valley was the first shock result of the 2019 general election. It was the first time that the constituency, a former mining area that had also voted Leave in the 2016 EU referendum, had ever elected a Conservative MP and followed the retirement of long-serving Labour stalwart Ronnie Campbell. There was trouble for Labour too in neighbouring Wansbeck, where Ian Lavery’s majority was cut from 10,435 to 814.

Like in many parts of the North East, there are some significant boundary changes affecting what was the Blyth Valley seat at this election. Some of it is being transferred to a new Blyth and Ashington constituency, where Mr Lavery will be up against Mr Levy’s wife Maureen, while Mr Levy himself is standing in the new seat of Cramlington and Killingworth.

Polls currently have Labour on course for comfortable victories in both of those seats, with Co-operative Party assistant general secretary Emma Foody standing in Cramlington and Killingworth.

2024 candidates in Cramlington and Killingworth: Thom Campion (Liberal Democrat), Gordon Fletcher (Reform), Emma Foody (Labour), Dawn Furness (Independent), Ian Jones (Green), Scott Lee (Independent), Ian Levy (Conservative), Matthew Wilkinson (Social Democratic Party).

2024 candidates in Blyth and Ashington: Ian Lavery (Labour), Maureen Levy (Conservative), Steve Leyland (Green), Mark Peart (Reform), Stephen Psallidas (Liberal Democrat).


2019 result: Paul Howell (Con) 19,609, Phil Wilson (Lab) 15,096, David Bull (Brexit) 3,518, John Furness (Green) 994, Michael Joyce (Ind) 394.

Winning in Sedgefield was another symbolic moment for the Tories in 2019 and one that prompted a celebratory visit from then prime minister Boris Johnson, who promised to repay the trust of North East voters as he lauded Paul Howell’s win in the constituency once represented by Tony Blair. The seat has been renamed and slightly redrawn for this election. Under its new name of Newton Aycliffe and Spennymoor, the seat comprises the majority of the current Sedgefield constituency but takes in Spennymoor, Tudhoe, and Coxhoe.

Mr Howell, who had unsuccessfully sought to become the Conservative candidate in the North East mayoral election, is standing again. Labour’s Alan Strickland is predicted to gain this seat, according to current polls.

2024 candidates in Newton Aycliffe and Spennymoor: Brian Agar (Transform Party), Anne-Marie Curry (Liberal Democrat), John Grant (Reform), Paul Howell (Conservative), Jack Hughes (Green), Alan Strickland (Labour), Minhajul Suhon (Workers Party).

North West Durham

2019 result: Richard Holden (Con) 19,990, Laura Pidcock (Lab) 18,846, John Wolstenholme (Brexit) 3,193, Michael Peacock (LD) 2,831, Watts Stelling (Ind) 1,126, David Sewell (Green) 1,173, David Lindsay (Ind) 414.

Former North West Durham MP Laura Pidcock was a key ally of Jeremy Corbyn and had been touted as a possible future leader of the party. But she was ousted in 2019 by Conservative Richard Holden, who is now the Tory party chairman. However, boundary changes mean that the seat is being abolished at this election and its wards divided among three others – Bishop Auckland, the City of Durham, and Blaydon and Consett.

Mr Holden is standing in the Essex seat of Basildon and Billericay, around 300 miles south of his previous constituency, after a lengthy search for a new seat. He had previously said he was “bloody loyal” to the North East despite choosing not to stand in the region at this general election.

Bishop Auckland

2019 result: Dehenna Davison (Con) 24,067, Helen Goodman (Lab) 16,105, Nicholas Brown (Brexit) 2,500, Ray Georgeson (LD) 2,133.

Dehenna Davison became the first Conservative MP ever to represent Bishop Auckland when she unseated Helen Goodman in 2019. The seat was a major target for the Tories at the last election, with them having fallen just 502 votes short of victory in 2017.

Ms Davison was elected at the age of just 26 and was viewed as a rising star within the Conservative Party, serving as a minister in the Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, but announced in late 2022 that she would not be standing at the next election and is now planning to move to Brazil. Union activist Sam Rushworth is the man chosen by Labour to try and win back Bishop Auckland, a constituency that is being enlarged to take in the Crook, Tow Law, and Weardale wards, while the Tories have picked Buckinghamshire councillor Jane MacBean to stand for them.

Polls suggest that Labour is likely to win back a seat that it had previously held since 1935.

2024 candidates: Rhys Burriss (Reform), Helen Cross (Liberal Democrat), Sarah Hannan (Green), Jane MacBean (Conservative), Rachel Maughan (Transform Party), Sam Rushworth (Labour).