South Tyneside’s only Conservative councillor will throw his hat in the ring to become David Miliband’s replacement as South Shields MP – after talking with the Prime Minister.
Jeff Milburn, the Tory representative for Cleadon and East Boldon, met David Cameron after the PM’s visit to the North East on Thursday.
And during a discussion about the political future of South Shields, after the former Foreign Secretary’s shock decision to quit the Labour stronghold and take up a charity role in New York, Mr Cameron asked him if he was interested in the job.
Coun Milburn said: “The event was for senior Conservative party members, and it was nice to be able to talk one-to-one with Mr Cameron.
“I’d met him before he was Prime Minister, and he’s always been a very personable man. He was there to talk about the region’s economy after his visit to Nissan, but he was very interested in South Shields when he was talking to me.
“He asked me if I was going to throw my hat into the ring, and of course, I said ‘yes’.”
A by-election following Mr Miliband’s exit is likely to be held in early May, and South Tyneside Council leader Coun Iain Malcolm has emerged as the early favourite to replace him.
However, Coun Milburn is convinced there’s a chance to take the seat in a town which has never elected a Conservative MP, and which Labour holds with a majority of more than 11,000.
He said: “I think Miliband has left us in the lurch.
“And while there is the cost of a by-election to consider, it does mean there is a chance for people to vote for a change.”