The Labour Party has named its candidates to contest a trio of key Black Country seats at the upcoming general election.
Ibrahim Dogus, the current Mayor of Lambeth, has been selected to replace Tom Watson in West Bromwich East after the former deputy leader’s decision to stand down.
And Lucy Caldicott, who is also a councillor on Lambeth Council, will contest Dudley South.
The party has also confirmed that former Sandwell Council assistant chief executive Melanie Dudley is its candidate in Dudley North.
Labour has held West Bromwich East since it was formed in 1974, while the party is aiming to win back Dudley South from the Tories, and hold Dudley North, where former MP Ian Austin has urged voters to back Boris Johnson.
All three constituencies overwhelmingly voted Leave in the EU referendum.
Mr Dogus, who was recently rejected as a candidate for his home seat of Vauxhall, is a restaurant owner who founded the Centre for Turkey Studies (CEFTUS) and the Centre for Kurdish Progress thinktanks, SME4Labour and the British Kebab Awards.
Proud to have been selected as the candidate for West Bromwich East @WBE_Labour and I am wasting no time at all taking the fight to the Tories.— Ibrahim Dogus (@ibrahim_Dogus) November 9, 2019
I’d like to pay a huge tribute to @tom_watson who served the people of the West Bromwich East constituency so diligently. pic.twitter.com/XQ3uSUflNX
He has been targeted by far right groups this year after receipts at his restaurants included the message: “Brexit is bad. Immigrants make Britain great. They also cooked and served your food today”.
According to LabourList he is not associated with any particular faction but is well-liked by key figures at the top of the party. He had been linked with the Hall Green candidacy after Roger Godsiff was ousted, but that has now gone to Birmingham councillor Tahir Ali.
Mr Dogus said: “I’d like to pay a huge tribute to Tom Watson who served the people of the West Bromwich East constituency so diligently. I am proud to call him a friend, and recognise I have big shoes to fill as the Labour candidate.
“I have already started work alongside members of the CLP to campaign for Labour in West Bromwich East. I am keen to explain Labour’s plans to create more jobs, to revive manufacturing and engineering skills, to rebuild our NHS, to put more police on the streets and estates, to deliver more childcare, to invest in our schools, and to tackle climate change.
“I am looking forward to meeting local people and listening to their concerns. I know what it’s like to live in temporary accommodation, to work long hours, and to face barriers.
“I relish the chance to fight for local people, to champion communities and businesses, and to deliver the decent services people round here deserve.”
He was chosen by an emergency selection process and not by local members.
Labour holds a majority of 7,713 and will face a challenge from one of its former MPs, George Galloway, who is standing on a pro-Corbyn, pro-Brexit platform.
Ms Caldicott, who has family in the West Midlands, is a councillor and an anti-Brexit campaigner who founded ChangeOut, a management consultancy that supports “social change movements”.
She also made a failed bid to become the parliamentary candidate for Vauxhall, and worked in international finance marketing for American Express and MoneyGram International before moving to the charity sector.
She is aiming to overturn Conservative Mike Wood’s majority of 7,730.
Meanwhile Ms Dudley is aiming to retain the Dudley North seat that Mr Austin held by just 22 votes in 2017.
She said on Twitter: “I am really pleased to announce I have been selected to be the Labour candidate for Dudley North.
“Fighting for the town I was born and grew up in.”
I am really pleased to announce I have been selected to be the Labour Candidate for Dudley North.— Dudley4Dudley@melaniedudley (@Dudley4D) November 9, 2019
Fighting for the town I was born and grew up in.
Meanwhile David Morgan has been announced as the Labour candidate for Aldridge-Brownhills. He will bid to unseat Conservative's Wendy Morton.