Tories and Ukip trade demands for Hartlepool candidates to stand down

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A row has broken out in Hartlepool as the Conservatives and Ukip tell each other their candidate should withdraw from the General Election.

The Conservative group leader on the council wrote to his Ukip counterpart saying internet polls showed the Tories had the best chance of unseating Labour.

Ukip's John Tennant, principal opposition leader on Hartlepool Council, hit back saying: "If anybody should be stepping down, it's the Conservatives."

Tory Ray Martin-Wells, who sparked the row, said: "If Ukip are serious in what they have said in the past then they should stand down in Hartlepool, because looking at local polls and projections they are running in a very poor third place.

"Our candidate is a strong Brexit supporter and has worked with Brexit minister David Davis in the past.

"For the first time in over 50 years Conservatives can win Hartlepool and Ukip, who appear to have lost massive local support by our own polliing, can only split the vote and possibly help Labour narrowly keep the seat."

Mr Tennant said there was "absolutely no way" the party would withdraw, pointing out that Ukip came a "strong second" in the 2015 General Election and the party has since won seats in council elections.

He said: "We are not just a party of the EU and immigration, we are trying to get results in the town hall and people respond to that."

Labour's Iain Wright, who retained the seat in 2015, announced he would not stand for re-election.

The candidates for the election are:

:: Conservative, Carl Jackson

:: Labour, Mike Hill

:: Liberal Democrat, Andy Hagon

:: Ukip, Phillip Broughton