Conservative incumbent John Lamont and Scottish National Party challenger Calum Kerr are to go up against each other for Westminster’s Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk seat for a third time, it’s been confirmed.
The pair have contested the Borders seat twice before, claiming one win apiece, and both the long-time rivals will fancy their chances of ending up third time lucky come the next UK Government general election on Thursday, December 12.
Mr Kerr claimed first blood when the pair initially crossed swords at the 2015 election, edging ahead of his Tory rival with a majority of just 328 after polling 20,145 votes, leaving former Lib Dem MP Michael Moore trailing behind in third place with 10,294 votes.
Mr Lamont turned the tables next time round, however, emerging triumphant at 2017’s election with a majority of 11,060.
The former solicitor polled 28,213 votes to telecommunications worker Mr Kerr’s 17,153, making the seat the Conservatives’ safest this side of the border.
That was third time lucky for Mr Lamont as, prior to being edged out by Mr Kerr two years previously, he’d lost out to Mr Moore in 2010, by 22,230 votes to 16,555, and in 2005, that time by 18,993 votes to 13,092.
The SNP finished fourth, after Labour, on both those occasions, with Paul Wheelhouse, now a list MSP for South Scotland, picking up 4,497 votes in 2010 and Aileen Orr getting 3,885 in 2005.
Mr Lamont and Mr Kerr are among five candidates so far to have thrown their hats into the ring for the consituency, the others being Liberal Democrat Jenny Marr, Labour’s Ian Davidson and the Brexit Party’s Michael Banks.
Launching his campaign to be re-elected last Friday, November 1, Mr Lamont, 43, born in Kilwinning in North Ayrshire but now living in Coldstream, said: “Over the next five weeks, I will be out speaking to as many residents as I can to hear your concerns and priorities for the Borders.
“As your MP, I have held over 350 local advice surgeries, helped thousands of residents and always stood up for local services and local people. I would be honoured to be able to continue this work.
“I can sense that people in the Borders are scunnered with politics at the moment and I do not blame them, but in the Borders it is going to be a close contest between me and the SNP.
“Nicola Sturgeon has made it crystal clear that her number one priority from this election is another independence referendum.
“The majority of people in the Borders, no matter how they voted in the EU referendum, just want Brexit sorted and for the country to move on.
“The last thing the Borders needs and wants is to go back to yet another divisive referendum.
“The SNP want to put up a border at Berwick. I want to focus on improving public services and getting the Borders connected.”
Galashiels-born Mr Kerr, 47, now living at Cardrona, begs to differ, though, saying: “The message that I am taking to Borderers is that Scotland voted to remain in the European Union and Scotland’s needs are best served by maintaining the strongest possible trade links with Europe.
“The people of Scotland deserve the right to choose our own future.
“In the face of both Scotland’s views and needs being ignored by the UK Government, we must stand up and reject the kind of hard Tory Brexit that is already, before it’s even taken place, causing chaos for our farmers, our businesses and those EU citizens who have paid us the compliment of making Scotland their home.
“The fact is that Boris Johnson’s deal will be even worse for our economy than the deal struck by Theresa May, which was itself rejected three times by MPs, and the latest bad deal puts Scotland at a significant competitive disadvantage to Northern Ireland.
“It is also becoming clearer by the day that, under their proposed hard Brexit, the Tories will sell out Scotland’s health service and food standards in their desperation to strike a US trade deal with Donald Trump. I won’t stand idly by and let that happen.
“I loved every second of representing this constituency, and I recognise that to do so is an honour, not a right.
“Any MP must earn and sustain the trust of the area’s constituents. In the two years that I had the honour of representing the area I love, I always put Borderers and their best interests first, and I promise to do so again if the people of the Borders once again put their faith in me.”
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