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Labour defends Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to visit the North East

Labour have defended Jeremy Corbyn’s failure to visit the North East so far during the general election campaign.

Conservative leader Theresa May was in North Shields on May 12, where she delivered a speech urging working class voters who have backed Labour “for generations” to switch to the Tories.

But Mr Corbyn has not yet come to the region – even though it is often seen as Labour’s heartland.

And unusually, there is a chance Labour could lose some North East seats to the Conservatives, in the general election on June 8.

Labour pointed out that visits from Shadow Cabinet members have included Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner visiting the Blaydon constituency and Shadow Health Secretary Jon Ashworth visiting Tynemouth.

A Labour North spokesperson said: “Members of the Shadow Cabinet have visited the region during the campaign to support our fantastic candidates and to highlight why only a Labour Government will stand up for the many not the few, here in the north east.”

The Chronicle understands that Mr Corbyn is likely to visit the North East before polling day.

However, neither of the two major parties announce visits more than a day in advance, partly for security reasons and partly to avoid criticism if plans have to be changed.

Wansbeck Labour candidate Ian Lavery is playing a crucial role in Labour’s general election campaign, as joint election co-ordinator.

And Labour’s manifesto includes plans to transform the way the Government allocates funding, by introducing new rules to ensure English regions outside London and the south east get a fairer share of investment.

It also includes a planned new rail line between the North East and North West, which Labour calls “Crossrail for the North”. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said during his manifesto launch: “One of our key commitments is a Crossrail for the North, from Manchester across to Newcastle.”

However, some Labour candidates in the region appear to believe their best hope of victory is to distance themselves from Mr Corbyn as much as possible.

Sedgefield Labour candidate Phil Wilson published an election leaflet saying: “I am no supporter of [Theresa] May and I am no supporter of Corbyn. The only people I support are YOU, the people of Sedgefield constituency.”

Conservative leader Theresa May used a campaign speech to make a joke about Jeremy Corbyn being “alone and naked” in the Brexit negotiations.

She said only she had “the plan to make Brexit a success”, adding: “Jeremy Corbyn’s minders can put him in a smart blue suit for an interview with Jeremy Paxman, but with his position on Brexit, he will find himself alone and naked in the negotiating chamber of the European Union.

“I know that’s an image that doesn’t bear thinking about. But actually, this is very serious.”

But Labour Deputy Leader Tom Watson said this week that Conservatives are “hell bent on viciously attacking Jeremy Corbyn” to cover up Mrs May’s faults.