Wife of Blyth MP Ian Levy compelled to stand after constituency split by boundary commission

Maureen Levy, who has been selected as the Conservative candidate for the new Blyth and Ashington seat, alongside her husband, Ian
-Credit: (Image: Conservative Party)

A Northumberland parliamentary candidate has explained that she felt compelled to stand for office after her husband's former constituency was split in two.

The Blyth Valley constituency, previously represented by Ian Levy, was abolished and divvied up between the new Cramlington & Killingworth and Ashington & Blyth seats for the coming election. While Mr Levy is standing in Cramlington and Killingworth, Mrs Levy has chosen to stand in Blyth & Ashington.

Speaking to the Local Democracy Reporting Service, Mrs Levy explained her decision to stand and discussed her priorities should she be elected. Mrs Levy gave up her job at North Tyneside Council in 2020 to work in her husband's office.

Explaining her decision to stand, she said: "I'm a Blyth girl at heart. We had done so much and we had just started to see changes coming in.

"I can't claim credit for everything Ian has done - but I have been behind the scenes since he was elected. I left my job and worked to get his constituency office sorted out.

"I have always been there with Ian behind the scenes quite happy to do my own projects alongside him. When Britishvolt was coming in, he was talking about jobs while I was talking to education providers and local employers to make sure our young people had the skills they needed to get those jobs.

Asked about her key priorities should she be elected, Mrs Levy said: "I'm very interested in skills and jobs. The big, big problem is we have got issues where we have got intergenerational worklessness, illiteracy and innumeracy.

"I learnt something that horrified me recently - during the six weeks holiday, children that are in households where parents read to them and do maths with them are fine, but the ones that don't have that for whatever reason can start to forget in those six weeks. It puts them at a disadvantage.

"The Energy Central Campus in Blyth will take us from 16 to degree level qualifications."

Asked about the other major town in the constituency - Ashington - Maureen added: "When Michael Gove came to Blyth, we collared him about Ashington and said it hadn't been successful in any of the levelling up bids and it really did need that.

"We look at it and think this isn't just about Blyth or Cramlington, it's about bigger projects and the bigger picture."

The Conservative candidate also backed Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, after controversy arose following comments made during the ITV debate on Tuesday. Mr Sunak has been criticised for a repeated attack about Labour's tax plans costing households which he claimed came from "independent Treasury officials" - something the Treasury's top civil servant has denied.

Mrs Levy added: "Rishi can say this is my plan, where Keir can't. That just makes me think he really doesn't know quite what he's going to do."

Mrs Levy's main opponent for the seat is long-serving former Wansbeck Ian Lavery. Steve Leyland is the Green Party candidate, while Mark Peart is standing for Reform UK. Stephen Anthony Psallidas is the Liberal Democrat candidate.

Current polls suggest Labour will win the seat comfortably. According to the poll tracker created by Britain Elects and the New Statesman, Labour are currently on 57.3% while the Conservatives are on 24.5%. Reform are in third place on 11.2%.