Donations, democracy and delivering Brexit: Tom Pursglove Interview

Corby’s Conservative candidate Tom Pursglove says he is ‘throwing the kitchen sink’ at winning his seat back at the general election and seeing off his closest rival, Labour’s Beth Miller.

Thursday, 28th November 2019, 9:25 am
Updated Thursday, 28th November 2019, 11:02 am
Tom Pursglove out on the campaign trail (from his Twitter account).

With a Conservative majority of 2,690 in the 2017 general election the Corby election is one of the closest in the county and with the Brexit Party, Green Party and UKIP not standing in the seat this contest is a three horse race, with Liberal Democrat Chris Stanbra offering the remain alternative.

First elected in 2015 the Wellingborough-born candidate, who cut his political teeth as a teenager on the local council, says Corby and East Northants voters should give him their vote because he has a track record of fighting for what matters to local people.

He said: “Through the 4.5 years I have proven that I have always stood up for local people and I have campaigned hard on the issues that matter to them.

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“I get out there and I knock on doors – most of my Friday nights and Saturday mornings are spent out on the street listening to local people and their views, heading back to Westminster to campaign on those issues.

“I have been an MP that has worked closely with their constituency to deliver real results. I’ve also worked tirelessly on thousands of cases. I have been accessible and have a record in parliament for showing up and taking part. I have worked hard to make sure I have been the most active local MP possible.”

He fought against the closure of the urgent care centre and was vocal in his objection to the Shelton Road waste plant.

He says infrastructure is a priority for the area and Corby’s inclusion in the Stronger Towns Fund is an opportunity to create a new vision for the future.

As a son of police officers the issue of policing is one he knows well and is thrilled with the Conservative pledge to put 20,000 more police officers on the streets . Over the past ten years the numbers have decreased significantly with 23 percent less officers serving Northamptonshire now than in 2010.

He said: “I think there has been a significant police presence in the centre of Corby not least because of the new policing base within the Cube that I argued strongly for and worked with our Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Stephen Mold to deliver. I think that is a really pragmatic solution to that challenge. That is going to be further bolstered by the new local scheme that the PCC has launched which is recruiting 200 new police officers, I think it is a great career and people should come forward to serve the community.”

Since becoming a parliamentarian he has made strides in the Conservative Party, most recently being promoted to a whip. Before that he had been vice chair for youth but had stood down in January in protest against former prime minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

He is one of several MPs – along with fellow Northamptonshire MPs Chris-Heaton Harris and Michael Elliis – who have been funded by Ukrainian Alexander Temerko, the former Kremlin worker, who was granted political asylum and now runs a successful offshore oil company.

The businessman is thought to be included in a parliamentary report into Russian influence in British politics, which has come into the spotlight in recent weeks because of the government’s seeming unwillingness to publish the report before the election.

Tom Pursglove has been asked a number of times about the subject on Twitter but as yet has not addressed the matter.

He told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “I know Alexander. I see Alexander from time to time. Alex is somebody who has always been very kind to me and I consider him to be a friend.

“I am not going to speculate. I know absolutely nothing about this report. Donations to the local conservative association are properly dealt with and registered and that’s the end of it. I find it quite objectionable, the suggestion of any wrongdoing on the part of Alexander who is a British citizen and who has made a donation to my campaign all in accordance with the way these things have to be dealt with.”

As an ardent Brexiter – along with Wellingborough MP Peter Bone he was a director of the Grassroots Out campaign – he finds the current situation where the country has not yet left the European Union ‘extraordinary’.

He said: “We can’t keep going round with no progress whatsoever, which is why it is better to elect a Conservative government that will get on delivering and has a plan and delivers a smooth and orderly departure from the EU.

“I really worry if that outcome does not happen we are going to have months more of uncertainty and it is undoubtedly having an impact in terms of stifling investment, it just does not make sense to continue that uncertainty when we have got a deal which delivers on the key things that people voted for in the referendum.

“I think Labour’s position of effectively saying we are going to go and negotiate a better deal and they are effectively saying to people ‘your first vote does not matter and we are now going to have a second referendum’. That is just going to drag this thing on for months.

“From a democratic trust perspective people are really frustrated and saying how can it be in our democracy we no longer respect the democracy result to implement them.”