Another Conservative heavyweight hit the election campaign trail in Avonmouth as the party continues to set its sights on reclaiming Bristol North West constituency.
This time, Sajid Javid swept into town on Tuesday, December 3 for a flying visit, following in the footsteps of prime minister Boris Johnson, who made the trip to the Royal Portbury Docks in November.
Like Johnson, the chancellor avoided meeting any members of the public while he was in Bristol, but he did participate in a tour of local business, Plant-Ex.
Pausing outside to speak to the gathered media, Javid took the opportunity to talk about his party’s economic credentials and, of course, how they will “get Brexit done” if they are returned with a majority following the General Election on December 12. He also claimed the Tories are “the only party on the side of business”.
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The visit comes just weeks after Javid returned to the shop below his former childhood home as part of a walk around Stapleton Road.
The choice of location in the heart of Bristol North West, is yet another indication that the party is pulling out all the stops to reclaim the seat that was seized by Labour’s Darren Jones in a surprise victory in the 2017 General Election.
Stepping into the weak December sun from his shiny black car, followed by a modest entourage, the chancellor posed for photos with Mark Weston, the parliamentary candidate for the constituency, as well as West of England metro mayor Tim Bowles.
Plant-Ex, a global manufacturer of food ingredients based in Avonmouth, is one of the many companies affected by Brexit uncertainty, which has already resulted in the company losing around 1 million Euros in potential custom from nervous EU firms.
Describing Plant-Ex as a “fantastic Bristol success story”, the chancellor addressed the issue of Brexit, saying: “We need to get on with Brexit. The uncertainty will continue under Jeremy Corbyn, who will form the most anti-business, anti-enterprise government.
“We will get Brexit done if we get a Tory majority – that’s why we need people like Mark Weston.”
The chancellor stated he is “absolutely confident” of “getting Brexit done” by the end of 2020 if the Conservatives do secure a majority.
When challenged on cuts to local government that have been felt across the board in Bristol, Javid said: “We have already started putting more money into local authorities. This includes £1.5billion into social care, but whether it’s local authorities or the NHS or police, to do all this requires a strong economy.
“We need to get rid of the uncertainty around Brexit.”
Javid also said a Conservative government will cut business rates, raise employment levels and invest in apprenticeships. His endorsement of ‘free ports’ was met with a whoop of delight from Bowles.
The visit fell on the day US president Donald Trump arrived in the UK and voiced his support for Johnson.
Asked whether such an endorsement is likely to help or hinder the Tories’ chance, the chancellor said the party “welcomes support from everywhere”.
Kitty Drewett, marketing and communications officer at Plant-Ex, said investment and support from the government is needed to help businesses in Avonmouth thrive. She confirmed it is the uncertainty of Brexit that is affecting the company the most.