Anti-Brexit protesters could target Conservatives' new HQ in Leeds
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Tory plans to open a new base “at the heart of the blue wall” were revealed by The Yorkshire Post on Saturday ahead of the announcement by party co-chairman Amanda Milling.
A spokesman said party bosses are still working out how many staff would be moving to the Leeds base ahead of its opening next, but that they would come from across the country and discussions would take place in coming months.
The Tories won more than 40 seats in the Midlands and the North at the December General Election as Labour’s so-called ‘red wall’ of constituencies crumbled. In a bid to cement these gains, plans were put in place to open up a new campaign headquarters outside London.
Ms Milling, who worked in Leeds before she became an MP, said on Saturday: “This new headquarters will provide the party with a base at the heart of the blue wall. Because we’re in it for the long haul. We’re determined to make the blue wall part of the fabric of our Party and our country. The best way we can deliver for people there is to be there.”
But anti-Brexit groups throughout the North are already eyeing Leeds as a place to protest after the move was announced.
Brenda Ashton, chair of Liverpool for Europe, said: “Our city, like Leeds, voted Remain. The Tory Brexit government’s incompetent handling of the pandemic has confirmed our utmost commitment to challenging its approach to our future relationship with the EU.
“An office in Leeds would provide us with the opportunity to make our opinions visible and vocal.
“We would be as prepared to make the 90-minute journey to Leeds as the two-and-a-half hour one to London. In fact, the Government would be making it much easier for us to campaign against them.”
Louise Brown, co-founder of North East for Europe, said: “If the Conservatives do not U-turn on their Leeds decision, by the time the offices open it will probably be painfully obvious the damage Brexit is doing to key sectors in the North East – such as industry and agriculture. Nissan is one example.
“If the Tories are in Leeds then you can bet we will turn up to show them what we think.”
Joe White, co-chair of Manchester for Europe, said: “Knowing how strong opposition is in Leeds to this Government’s signature policy, I was surprised to hear it was chosen for the Tories’ new offices.
“We certainly will not miss an opportunity to cross the Pennine divide to make our views known, alongside campaigners from Leeds for Europe.”
The current central London location for CCHQ has previously been targeted by protesters, including by students in 2010 and in 2014.
Ms Milling said on Saturday: “Last year saw the Conservative Party win seats we’ve never held before and we owe it to the millions of people who put their faith in us with their votes to get back to the business of delivering for them after years of arguing about Brexit.
“The best way we can do that in the Midlands and the North is to open a new headquarters in the heart of the blue wall.”