Voters in Rishi Sunak's seat don't think he will stay on as MP, Labour candidate claims

Voters in Richmond don’t believe that Rishi Sunak will stay as an MP after this election, Labour’s candidate has said, as he called on voters to back a candidate that is planning to stick around.

In his first interview since his selection, Tom Wilson told The Yorkshire Post that he wants to offer local voters a genuine second option in this election following Labour’s victory in the North Yorkshire mayoralty.

“I'm local, I'm from Darlington, my whole extended family from the area,” he said.

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“It's actually not, despite what people may think, anything to do with my challenger. It's all about the seat.

Tom Wilson, Labour's candidate to take on Rishi Sunak in RichmondTom Wilson, Labour's candidate to take on Rishi Sunak in Richmond
Tom Wilson, Labour's candidate to take on Rishi Sunak in Richmond

“It's a gorgeous place, the garden of England, and I wanted to present the voters in Richmond and Northallerton a real choice in the election, and allow them to feel that they do have a second option that they can go for.”

Mr Sunak has repeatedly faced suggestions that he would not stick around as an MP if he were to lead the Conservatives to defeat in the election, and would instead go to live in the US.

Last month he told ITV’s Loose Women that he is “of course” staying, adding: “I love being an MP. I love my constituents, I love my home in North Yorkshire.”

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However, Mr Wilson, 29 said that voters in his seat don’t believe him.

“You talk to people on the ground around here and you get the impression that no one really expects him to be here six months after a general election, if he wins his seat or not,” he said.

“My message to voters is that you should pick a really dedicated MP who will fight for you and be influential in the next government, rather than just having a by-election in half a year.”

Mr Wilson, a former aide to the one-time shadow cabinet MP Chuka Umunna, said that he changed careers during the pandemic, initially working in test and trace before moving to the NHS to work in a cancer trust.

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“I think healthcare is just about the number one issue that local voters are facing,” he said.

The Labour candidate said that this election provides the first realistic chance for his party to win the seat, following Labour’s victory in the York and North Yorkshire mayoral race.

“This is very much the first for the area in terms of actually giving Labour a real hearing. I think we do present a real choice, a credible choice this year.

“The campaign in the North Yorkshire mayoralty was really fantastic. I don't think I saw any national media figures, talking, discussing that at all, because it was kind of assumed that it was absolutely nailed on for the Conservatives.

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“I think there's a real sense in all of North Yorkshire, that this government has stopped talking for them, that frankly, they are more interested in appealing to a ring of Conservative voters around London.

“They're not really talking to the needs and wants and views of Yorkshire.”