A COUNCILLOR in Walsall has been selected as the Conservative candidate to fight to represent Dudley North in the next general election.

Marco Longhi will contest the seat, which is a key marginal target after sitting MP Ian Austin was re-elected in 2017 with a majority of just 22 votes over the Conservatives.

Mr Longhi currently sits on Walsall Council, where he served as Mayor from 2017 to 2019.

It is not the first time he has run to represent Dudley in Parliament- the property management businessman previously contested Dudley South at the 2005 election, in which he finished second to Labour.

He has said his priorities if elected are the regeneration of brownfield sites in Dudley, tackling knife crime and focussing on mental health in the community.

But he insists his most pressing concern is Brexit.

He said: “I am extremely pleased to have been selected by members of Dudley North Conservative Association and I will be campaigning hard on the issues that matter most to people across the constituency. I’ll be a local champion with a plan to get things done, making sure people see a difference and have their views and opinions heard loud and clearly.

“One of the most important issues for local people is that we respect the result of the referendum and leave the EU on 31st October, with or without a deal. This will allow us to reunite the country and deliver on people’s priorities."

He added: "Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party offers nothing for people here in Dudley North. His Surrender Act means delaying Brexit until at least 2020 and even longer if the EU demand it – Brussels would be in the driving seat and Corbyn would accept anything from them.

“Only Boris Johnson and the Conservatives will get Brexit done by 31 October and get our country back on the road to a brighter future with additional funding for the NHS in their frontline services, hiring 20,000 new police officers, creating more jobs and properly funding our schools.”

The Liberal Democrats have also selected their candidate to contest the key seat, with Labour yet to reveal their candidate.