Tory Mayor of West Mids Andy Street warns that the election is on edge

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Tory West Midlands Mayor Andy Street warned today that Boris Johnson’s historic Red Wall breakthrough is at stake in crucial elections next week

Tory West Midlands Mayor Andy Street warned today that Boris Johnson’s historic Red Wall breakthrough is at stake in crucial elections next week.

Mr Street said the battle for the key job will be the litmus test of whether the dramatic shift in the political landscape brought by the prime minister’s majority is permanent.

In an interview with MailOnline, he expressed fears that Tories assume he will ‘win easily’ – when the match is actually ‘very, very close’.

The former businessman criticized Labor opponent Liam Byrne for showing attack ads in the campaign, saying he hoped they would just underline that he is dealing with a “ career politician. ”

In an optimistic review, Mr. Street – who was in charge of John Lewis before entering politics – also dismissed the idea that the feud over the Prime Minister’s lavish renovation and lobby revelations had a significant impact on voters.

The West Midlands is a pivotal part of the mind-boggling series of Democratic battles to be decided next week – with Sir Keir Starmer desperate to show that he has a serious chance of ever becoming prime minister.

In addition to mayors in Tees Valley and London, around 5,000 councilors in England, Hartlepool’s seat in the House of Commons and the Scottish and Welsh Parliaments are up for grabs.

Mr Street’s hard-won 2017 victory was seen as an early indicator of the tide crushing Labor in 2019, with a swath of previously rock solid seats turning blue.

The 57-year-old won mayor by less than 4,000 votes – a margin of less than one percent – and allies insist that the result came to the pinnacle of Theresa May’s regime.

Mr Street said the battle for the key job will be the litmus test of whether the dramatic shift in the political landscape brought by the prime minister's majority is permanent (pictured with Boris Johnson in Wolverhampton this month)

Mr Street said the battle for the key job will be the litmus test of whether the dramatic shift in the political landscape brought by the prime minister’s majority is permanent (pictured with Boris Johnson in Wolverhampton this month)

The former businessman criticized Labor opponent Liam Byrne for running attack ads in the campaign, saying he hoped they would only underline that he is dealing with a `` career politician. ''

The former businessman criticized Labor opponent Liam Byrne for running attack ads in the campaign, saying he hoped they would only underline that he is dealing with a “ career politician. ”

Mr Street emphasized his track record of achieving clear victories for the government’s region, saying he felt voters now understood what the task could do.

‘Four years ago, we spent a long time explaining to people what the position of the mayor was about, why it was relevant. Most people have now understood that. The role is set, ”he said.

Mr Street shrugged at the furious arguments over David Cameron’s lobby and the murky funding for the renovation of the Prime Minister’s flat. He has dodged getting involved in the feud over claims that the overhaul was necessary because of Theresa May’s ‘John Lewis nightmare’ decor – only insisting that he learned you ‘can’t please everyone’.

‘Honestly, no person has told me this at the door since the beginning. Whether it’s the Greensill element, none of it – not one person brought it up, ”Mr. Street said.

He insisted that the word sleaze “didn’t come from the mouth of a normal voter I’ve met.”

‘I have the impression that here in the region they will vote on the topics. They don’t often talk about things to do with national politics, ”Mr. Street said.

Instead, the Tory candidate said the voters’ focus appears to be on the urge to vaccinate, the end of the lockdown and the economic recovery.

He said he hoped he had demonstrated the benefits of being able to influence the government over the past four years, including a sevenfold increase in transportation investment and the resurgence of dilapidated industrial estates such as Longbridge.

“We’ve certainly done a lot better (than in the past), and there are big things people can see: government investment that is creating jobs right now,” Street said.

“Apparently mom and dad of all that are HS2.”

Mr Street was instrumental in getting the green light for the HS2 project – which is seen in some Tory circles as a catastrophic waste of money.

“When people say to me, show that you can influence the government – I think this is the best example,” he said.

Most people would accept that the Conservative party wasn’t sure which way to jump. Many people were quite silent, waiting to see which way the Prime Minister would jump.

‘Of course I was in a completely different position. I knew what I wanted, I knew it was critical to my region, I went out and fought for it …

“That’s what a major should do.”

The former businessman criticized Labor opponent Liam Byrne for running attack ads in the campaign, saying he hoped they would only underline that he is dealing with a `` career politician. ''

The former businessman criticized Labor opponent Liam Byrne for running attack ads in the campaign, saying he hoped they would only underline that he is dealing with a “ career politician. ”

Mr. Street stressed that the West Midlands and other Red Wall battlefields could shape politics in the years to come.

‘They will be very, very close. But staying an inch ahead of it will tell us that the whole Red Wall thing wasn’t about a one-off Brexit or anti-Corbyn sentiment, ” he said.

It was something much, much deeper. I think it’s about whether they see the conservative councils, mayors and governments doing something for them. ‘

Mr Street insisted that he had run a “totally positive campaign.” But noting the Jo Cox foundation’s promise of a “ respectful campaign that promotes democratic debate and upholds the dignity of all candidates, ” he suggested that his opponent had not played by the same rules.

“I hope people would say I’ve tried to run a completely positive campaign, always focusing on what we’re going to do,” he said.

“They showed a few, you would probably call them attack ads this week. I just think to myself, it’s a shame it’s really necessary.

“My own view is that Labor’s tactics when they do that just underscore the career politician, the traditional partisan approach and I don’t think voters like that.”

Speaking of 50-year-old Mr. Byrne – a member of parliament for Hodge Hill and a minister under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown – he said, “If he continues to place attack ads, he perpetuates that image.”

In a final plea to voters with less than a week to go to Election Day, Mr. Street said, “Too many people here think I’m going to win too easily, especially conservative voters.

This is not a foregone conclusion. This is very close. Labor has received an incredible amount of votes here, especially in Birmingham.

“We need our constituents to be motivated, if they like the way I’ve handled things … please come out and vote for it.”

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