Richard Holden slammed for 'bloody loyal' claim after ditching North East to challenge for Essex seat at the General Election

Conservative Party chairman Richard Holden
-Credit: (Image: PA)

An leading Conservative Party figure has been criticised for ditching the North East to stand in the General Election in Essex - after previously claiming to be "bloody loyal" to the area.

Richard Holden - who is chairman of the Conservative Party - has been MP for North West Durham since 2019. However, rather than contesting one of the new Durham seats at the coming election, he has been named as his party's candidate for the "safe" Essex seat of Basildon and Billericay.

As party chairman, Mr Holden is responsible for overseeing the party's election campaign. However, the decision for him to fight the election in Essex has been met with backlash on all sides.

In the North East, Newcastle North candidate Catherine McKinnell hit out at the move. She said: "After his cringy claim that he was ‘bloody loyal to the North East’, the Tory Chair is keeping up his party’s habit of breaking promises to voters.

"Wherever he nests, Holden will find out that the public is tired of this failed Conservative government serving its own interests. Whether it’s in Billericay or Durham, the public wants to turn the page on 14 years of chaos. The changed Labour Party stands ready to offer that change and the chance to rebuild Britain."

Catherine McKinnell MP
Catherine McKinnell MP -Credit:newcastle chronicle

In February Mr Holden made the claim that, despite not choosing to stand in any of the redrawn County Durham constituencies at the looming election, he was "bloody loyal to the North East".

This comes as local Conservative Party figures in Essex also criticised the move saying Mr Holden was being "parachuted in" and that local members were not given a say. Richard Moore, chairman of the local association, said Mr Holden’s candidacy was “a complete surprise” to local members in the area.

Another Essex Tory, Andrew Baggott, leader of Basildon Council, said he would not be campaigning for Mr Holden due to the way he had been imposed on the area.

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “We do not comment on selections.” Mr Holden has yet to comment on his candidacy in Essex.