Tory Eurosceptic to fight for power in Dudley
The new Tory candidate in the key marginal seat of Dudley South has declared himself a Eurosceptic who would vote to leave the European Union unless there is 'fundamental' reform.
Mike Wood was chosen by a public vote to try to hold on to Dudley South when Conservative MP Chris Kelly stands down at the General Election.
Constituents were invited to attend a hustings and choose from a shortlist of four candidates.
Although 80 people registered, 45 turned up on Wednesday night. Labour said it had a member in the audience who counted fewer than 40 and claimed it was 'catastrophic' for the Conservatives as they seek to defend a 3,856 vote majority.
Father of two Mr Wood, aged 38, is a qualified barrister who spent seven years working in the European Parliament.
He is now a freelance web designer who also works for Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris and sits on Dudley Council representing Pedmore and Stourbridge East.
Mr Wood said: "I think 45 people going to a selection meeting on a miserable Wednesday night in November is a good result.
"It is going to be a tough fight next year but I am ready for it.
"We have to work very hard, listen to people and get our message across. We cannot afford to lose seats like Dudley South when we are trying to win a Conservative majority."
Mr Wood said the meeting, which was not open to the press, saw questions on the NHS and political reform.
The Tories are fighting not just Labour but the increasing popularity of UKIP.
Mr Wood said: "I am a Eurosceptic. I've been arguing for reform and it's finally within reach.
"I would love to see a fundamentally different relationship with the EU to persuade me it's worth staying in."
Departing MP Mr Kelly said he was standing down after just one term because it was 'increasingly difficult to find the right balance between my work and my personal and family life'.
Labour's candidate is Natasha Millward while UKIP will be represented again by Phil Rowe and the Greens by Vicky Duckworth.
The Liberal Democrats have yet to announce a candidate.
Labour spokesman Richard Costello said: "For there to be less than 40 people turn up to the Tories open primary is truly catastrophic for them."
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