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Boris Johnson to launch Gavin Barwell's campaign for re-election in Croydon Central

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BORIS Johnson is coming to Croydon to publicly launch Gavin Barwell's election campaign.

The Mayor of London, who recently announced his own intention to return to the Commons, will speak at a high-profile event at Fairfield Halls next month.

Mr Johnson will urge voters in Croydon Central to opt for his Conservative colleague next May, in what is likely to be one of the closest-fought seats in the country.

Mr Barwell's campaign is being launched on the backdrop of May's local election, which saw Labour retake the council and make significant gains in his constituency.

The results gave heart to the party's candidate Sarah Jones that she could not only wrestle the seat away from the Tories, but also become Croydon's first ever female MP.

Mr Barwell told the Advertiser: "There's no panic, but there absolutely is a recognition that this is going to be a close election and [the voters] are going to see a much better campaign from me than maybe we put up in the local elections."

The party has sent out thousands of leaflets featuring a letter from Mr Johnson, in which he plays up both Mr Barwell's, and his own, role in helping Croydon "recover" from the riots in 2011, attract Westfield and Hammerson, "increasing the capacity" on the tram network and get "more police officers on Croydon's streets".

"He is a strong voice for Croydon both at City Hall and in Parliament – we could do with more MPs like him," added Mr Johnson.

In contrast to the Conservative's local election literature, the leaflet does not mention the threat from Ukip, whom Mr Barwell was quick to credit for Labour's election win.

The party damaged Conservative support in wards like Ashburton, which had previously returned three Tory councillors.

Mr Barwell said winning back those voters would be part of his focus.

He said: "It's clearly the case with the local elections that Ukip took more from the Conservatives than they did from Labour.

"Part of the campaign will be about addressing that particular group of voters and get them to think about the consequences of how they vote.

"However, there's an even bigger group of people in the middle who are swinging between the two main parties, so it's not all about trying to win back Ukip voters. It's also about winning floating voters."

Mr Barwell has been canvassing in Heathfield and Fieldway since the local elections in May, helped by hundreds of party activists, in an acknowledgement that both wards had not received enough attention from the Conservatives during that campaign.

He added: "I'm absolutely not taking the result next year for granted. Unlike Labour I've been out canvassing every single weekend since I got elected. It's not something they do. They tend to just work at election time."

Boris Johnson to launch Gavin Barwell's campaign for re-election in Croydon Central


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