June 4, 2016 @ 18:44 by Alison Cowie
Jeremy Middleton, a former parliamentary candidate and former chairman of the Conservative National Convention, has resigned from the Conservative Party, four months after he announced he was to stand as a candidate for the newly created position of North East Mayor.
Mr Middleton has resigned because he believes that the newly created mayors should be independent of party politics.
Mr Middleton said: “This is not about party politics, it is about the North East. This region needs candidates focused exclusively on its interests and not people with one eye on their party careers.
“I became convinced after the London Mayoral race and the entry into the North West campaigns by big national names. It’s clear that the big Westminster parties will use these elections as platforms to fight national battles and internal arguments. Zac [Goldsmith] versus [Sadiq] Khan had little to do with London, while [Andy] Burnham in the North West could be construed as a consolation prize following the Labour leadership fight. It’s clear these new Mayoral elections are ripe for the Westminster party machines to take-over, but we need to put the peoples’ interests first.
“I want to be able to speak my mind unencumbered by any other interest. The North East needs a change of direction. I will be a fair-minded mayor with solid business experience yet willing to call-out both the Conservative Government and Labour Councils in order to get people the results they expect and deserve.”